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350 BC 


by Aristotle 

Translated by Benjamin Jowett 


EVERY STATE is a community of some kind, and every community is 
established with a view to some good; for mankind always act in 
order to obtain that which they think good. But, if all communities 
aim at some good, the state or political community, which is the 
highest of all, and which embraces all the rest, aims at good in a 
greater degree than any other, and at the highest good. 

Some people think that the qualifications of a statesman, king, 
householder, and master are the same, and that they differ, not in 
kind, but only in the number of their subjects. For example, the ruler 
over a few is called a master; over more, the manager of a 
household; over a still larger number, a statesman or king, as if 
there were no difference between a great household and a small 
state. The distinction which is made between the king and the 
statesman is as follows: When the government is personal, the ruler is 
a king; when, according to the rules of the political science, the 
citizens rule and are ruled in turn, then he is called a statesman. 

But all this is a mistake; for governments differ in kind, as will 
be evident to any one who considers the matter according to the method 
which has hitherto guided us. As in other departments of science, so 
in politics, the compound should always be resolved into the simple 
elements or least parts of the whole. We must therefore look at the 
elements of which the state is composed, in order that we may see in 
what the different kinds of rule differ from one another, and 
whether any scientific result can be attained about each one of them. 


He who thus considers things in their first growth and origin, 
whether a state or anything else, will obtain the clearest view of 
them. In the first place there must be a union of those who cannot 
exist without each other; namely, of male and female, that the race 
may continue (and this is a union which is formed, not of deliberate 
purpose, but because, in common with other animals and with plants, 
mankind have a natural desire to leave behind them an image of 
themselves), and of natural ruler and subject, that both may be 
preserved. For that which can foresee by the exercise of mind is by 
nature intended to be lord and master, and that which can with its 
body give effect to such foresight is a subject, and by nature a 
slave; hence master and slave have the same interest. Now nature has 
distinguished between the female and the slave. For she is not 
niggardly, like the smith who fashions the Delphian knife for many 
uses; she makes each thing for a single use, and every instrument is 
best made when intended for one and not for many uses . But among 
barbarians no distinction is made between women and slaves, because 
there is no natural ruler among them: they are a community of 
slaves, male and female. Wherefore the poets say, 

It is meet that Hellenes should rule over barbarians; 

as if they thought that the barbarian and the slave were by nature 
one . 

Out of these two relationships between man and woman, master and 
slave, the first thing to arise is the family, and Hesiod is right 
when he says, 

First house and wife and an ox for the plough, 

for the ox is the poor man's slave. The family is the association 
established by nature for the supply of men's everyday wants, and 
the members of it are called by Charondas 'companions of the 
cupboard, ' and by Epimenides the Cretan, 'companions of the manger. ' 
But when several families are united, and the association aims at 
something more than the supply of daily needs, the first society to be 
formed is the village. And the most natural form of the village 
appears to be that of a colony from the family, composed of the 
children and grandchildren, who are said to be suckled 'with the 
same milk. ' And this is the reason why Hellenic states were originally 
governed by kings; because the Hellenes were under royal rule before 
they came together, as the barbarians still are. Every family is ruled 
by the eldest, and therefore in the colonies of the family the 
kingly form of government prevailed because they were of the same 
blood. As Homer says: 

Each one gives law to his children and to his wives. 

For they lived dispersedly, as was the manner in ancient times. 
Wherefore men say that the Gods have a king, because they themselves 
either are or were in ancient times under the rule of a king. For they 
imagine, not only the forms of the Gods, but their ways of life to 
be like their own. 

When several villages are united in a single complete community, 
large enough to be nearly or quite self-sufficing, the state comes 
into existence, originating in the bare needs of life, and 
continuing in existence for the sake of a good life. And therefore, if 
the earlier forms of society are natural, so is the state, for it is 
the end of them, and the nature of a thing is its end. For what each 
thing is when fully developed, we call its nature, whether we are 
speaking of a man, a horse, or a family. Besides, the final cause 
and end of a thing is the best, and to be self-sufficing is the end 
and the best. 

Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that 
man is by nature a political animal. And he who by nature and not by 
mere accident is without a state, is either a bad man or above 
humanity; he is like the 

Tribeless, lawless, hearthless one, 

whom Homer denounces- the natural outcast is forthwith a lover of war; 
he may be compared to an isolated piece at draughts. 

Now, that man is more of a political animal than bees or any other 
gregarious animals is evident. Nature, as we often say, makes 
nothing in vain, and man is the only animal whom she has endowed 
with the gift of speech. And whereas mere voice is but an indication 
of pleasure or pain, and is therefore found in other animals (for 
their nature attains to the perception of pleasure and pain and the 
intimation of them to one another, and no further) , the power of 
speech is intended to set forth the expedient and inexpedient, and 
therefore likewise the just and the unjust. And it is a characteristic 
of man that he alone has any sense of good and evil, of just and 
unjust, and the like, and the association of living beings who have 
this sense makes a family and a state. 

Further, the state is by nature clearly prior to the family and to 
the individual, since the whole is of necessity prior to the part; for 
example, if the whole body be destroyed, there will be no foot or 
hand, except in an equivocal sense, as we might speak of a stone hand; 
for when destroyed the hand will be no better than that. But things 
are defined by their working and power; and we ought not to say that 
they are the same when they no longer have their proper quality, but 
only that they have the same name. The proof that the state is a 

creation of nature and prior to the individual is that the individual, 
when isolated, is not self-sufficing; and therefore he is like a 
part in relation to the whole. But he who is unable to live in 
society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must 
be either a beast or a god: he is no part of a state. A social 
instinct is implanted in all men by nature, and yet he who first 
founded the state was the greatest of benefactors. For man, when 
perfected, is the best of animals, but, when separated from law and 
justice, he is the worst of all; since armed injustice is the more 
dangerous, and he is equipped at birth with arms, meant to be used 
by intelligence and virtue, which he may use for the worst ends. 
Wherefore, if he have not virtue, he is the most unholy and the most 
savage of animals, and the most full of lust and gluttony. But justice 
is the bond of men in states, for the administration of justice, which 
is the determination of what is just, is the principle of order in 
political society. 


Seeing then that the state is made up of households, before speaking 
of the state we must speak of the management of the household. The 
parts of household management correspond to the persons who compose 
the household, and a complete household consists of slaves and 
freemen. Now we should begin by examining everything in its fewest 
possible elements; and the first and fewest possible parts of a family 
are master and slave, husband and wife, father and children. We have 
therefore to consider what each of these three relations is and 
ought to be: I mean the relation of master and servant, the marriage 
relation (the conjunction of man and wife has no name of its own), and 
thirdly, the procreative relation (this also has no proper name) . 
And there is another element of a household, the so-called art of 
getting wealth, which, according to some, is identical with 
household management, according to others, a principal part of it; the 
nature of this art will also have to be considered by us. 

Let us first speak of master and slave, looking to the needs of 
practical life and also seeking to attain some better theory of 
their relation than exists at present. For some are of opinion that 
the rule of a master is a science, and that the management of a 
household, and the mastership of slaves, and the political and royal 
rule, as I was saying at the outset, are all the same. Others affirm 
that the rule of a master over slaves is contrary to nature, and 
that the distinction between slave and freeman exists by law only, and 
not by nature; and being an interference with nature is therefore 
unjust . 


Property is a part of the household, and the art of acquiring 
property is a part of the art of managing the household; for no man 
can live well, or indeed live at all, unless he be provided with 
necessaries. And as in the arts which have a definite sphere the 
workers must have their own proper instruments for the 
accomplishment of their work, so it is in the management of a 
household. Now instruments are of various sorts; some are living, 
others lifeless; in the rudder, the pilot of a ship has a lifeless, in 
the look-out man, a living instrument; for in the arts the servant 
is a kind of instrument. Thus, too, a possession is an instrument 
for maintaining life. And so, in the arrangement of the family, a 
slave is a living possession, and property a number of such 
instruments; and the servant is himself an instrument which takes 
precedence of all other instruments. For if every instrument could 
accomplish its own work, obeying or anticipating the will of others, 
like the statues of Daedalus, or the tripods of Hephaestus, which, 
says the poet, 

of their own accord entered the assembly of the Gods; 

if, in like manner, the shuttle would weave and the plectrum touch the 
lyre without a hand to guide them, chief workmen would not want 
servants, nor masters slaves. Here, however, another distinction 
must be drawn; the instruments commonly so called are instruments of 
production, whilst a possession is an instrument of action. The 
shuttle, for example, is not only of use; but something else is made 
by it, whereas of a garment or of a bed there is only the use. 
Further, as production and action are different in kind, and both 
require instruments, the instruments which they employ must likewise 
differ in kind. But life is action and not production, and therefore 
the slave is the minister of action. Again, a possession is spoken 
of as a part is spoken of; for the part is not only a part of 
something else, but wholly belongs to it; and this is also true of a 
possession. The master is only the master of the slave; he does not 
belong to him, whereas the slave is not only the slave of his 
master, but wholly belongs to him. Hence we see what is the nature and 
office of a slave; he who is by nature not his own but another's 
man, is by nature a slave; and he may be said to be another's man who, 
being a human being, is also a possession. And a possession may be 
defined as an instrument of action, separable from the possessor. 


But is there any one thus intended by nature to be a slave, and 
for whom such a condition is expedient and right, or rather is not all 
slavery a violation of nature? 

There is no difficulty in answering this question, on grounds both 
of reason and of fact. For that some should rule and others be ruled 
is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their 
birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule. 

And there are many kinds both of rulers and subjects (and that 
rule is the better which is exercised over better subjects- for 
example, to rule over men is better than to rule over wild beasts; for 
the work is better which is executed by better workmen, and where 
one man rules and another is ruled, they may be said to have a 
work) ; for in all things which form a composite whole and which are 
made up of parts, whether continuous or discrete, a distinction 
between the ruling and the subject element comes to fight. Such a 
duality exists in living creatures, but not in them only; it 
originates in the constitution of the universe; even in things which 
have no life there is a ruling principle, as in a musical mode. But we 
are wandering from the subject. We will therefore restrict ourselves 
to the living creature, which, in the first place, consists of soul 
and body: and of these two, the one is by nature the ruler, and the 
other the subject. But then we must look for the intentions of 
nature in things which retain their nature, and not in things which 
are corrupted. And therefore we must study the man who is in the 
most perfect state both of body and soul, for in him we shall see 
the true relation of the two; although in bad or corrupted natures the 
body will often appear to rule over the soul, because they are in an 
evil and unnatural condition. At all events we may firstly observe 
in living creatures both a despotical and a constitutional rule; for 
the soul rules the body with a despotical rule, whereas the 
intellect rules the appetites with a constitutional and royal rule. 
And it is clear that the rule of the soul over the body, and of the 
mind and the rational element over the passionate, is natural and 
expedient; whereas the equality of the two or the rule of the inferior 
is always hurtful. The same holds good of animals in relation to 
men; for tame animals have a better nature than wild, and all tame 
animals are better off when they are ruled by man; for then they are 
preserved. Again, the male is by nature superior, and the female 
inferior; and the one rules, and the other is ruled; this principle, 
of necessity, extends to all mankind. 

Where then there is such a difference as that between soul and body, 

or between men and animals (as in the case of those whose business 
is to use their body, and who can do nothing better) , the lower sort 
are by nature slaves, and it is better for them as for all inferiors 
that they should be under the rule of a master. For he who can be, and 
therefore is, another's and he who participates in rational 
principle enough to apprehend, but not to have, such a principle, is a 
slave by nature. Whereas the lower animals cannot even apprehend a 
principle; they obey their instincts. And indeed the use made of 
slaves and of tame animals is not very different; for both with 
their bodies minister to the needs of life. Nature would like to 
distinguish between the bodies of freemen and slaves, making the one 
strong for servile labor, the other upright, and although useless 
for such services, useful for political life in the arts both of war 
and peace. But the opposite often happens- that some have the souls 
and others have the bodies of freemen. And doubtless if men differed 
from one another in the mere forms of their bodies as much as the 
statues of the Gods do from men, all would acknowledge that the 
inferior class should be slaves of the superior. And if this is true 
of the body, how much more just that a similar distinction should 
exist in the soul? but the beauty of the body is seen, whereas the 
beauty of the soul is not seen. It is clear, then, that some men are 
by nature free, and others slaves, and that for these latter slavery 
is both expedient and right. 


But that those who take the opposite view have in a certain way 
right on their side, may be easily seen. For the words slavery and 
slave are used in two senses. There is a slave or slavery by law as 
well as by nature. The law of which I speak is a sort of convention- 
the law by which whatever is taken in war is supposed to belong to the 
victors. But this right many jurists impeach, as they would an 
orator who brought forward an unconstitutional measure: they detest 
the notion that, because one man has the power of doing violence and 
is superior in brute strength, another shall be his slave and subject. 
Even among philosophers there is a difference of opinion. The origin 
of the dispute, and what makes the views invade each other's 
territory, is as follows: in some sense virtue, when furnished with 
means, has actually the greatest power of exercising force; and as 
superior power is only found where there is superior excellence of 
some kind, power seems to imply virtue, and the dispute to be simply 
one about justice (for it is due to one party identifying justice with 
goodwill while the other identifies it with the mere rule of the 
stronger) . If these views are thus set out separately, the other views 
have no force or plausibility against the view that the superior in 
virtue ought to rule, or be master. Others, clinging, as they think, 
simply to a principle of justice (for law and custom are a sort of 
justice), assume that slavery in accordance with the custom of war 
is justified by law, but at the same moment they deny this. For what 
if the cause of the war be unjust? And again, no one would ever say he 
is a slave who is unworthy to be a slave. Were this the case, men of 
the highest rank would be slaves and the children of slaves if they or 
their parents chance to have been taken captive and sold. Wherefore 
Hellenes do not like to call Hellenes slaves, but confine the term 
to barbarians. Yet, in using this language, they really mean the 
natural slave of whom we spoke at first; for it must be admitted 
that some are slaves everywhere, others nowhere. The same principle 
applies to nobility. Hellenes regard themselves as noble everywhere, 
and not only in their own country, but they deem the barbarians 
noble only when at home, thereby implying that there are two sorts 
of nobility and freedom, the one absolute, the other relative. The 
Helen of Theodectes says: 

Who would presume to call me servant who am on both sides 
sprung from the stem of the Gods? 

What does this mean but that they distinguish freedom and slavery, 
noble and humble birth, by the two principles of good and evil? They 
think that as men and animals beget men and animals, so from good 
men a good man springs. But this is what nature, though she may intend 
it, cannot always accomplish. 

We see then that there is some foundation for this difference of 
opinion, and that all are not either slaves by nature or freemen by 
nature, and also that there is in some cases a marked distinction 
between the two classes, rendering it expedient and right for the 
one to be slaves and the others to be masters: the one practicing 
obedience, the others exercising the authority and lordship which 
nature intended them to have. The abuse of this authority is injurious 
to both; for the interests of part and whole, of body and soul, are 
the same, and the slave is a part of the master, a living but 
separated part of his bodily frame. Hence, where the relation of 
master and slave between them is natural they are friends and have a 
common interest, but where it rests merely on law and force the 
reverse is true. 


The previous remarks are quite enough to show that the rule of a 
master is not a constitutional rule, and that all the different 
kinds of rule are not, as some affirm, the same with each other. For 
there is one rule exercised over subjects who are by nature free, 
another over subjects who are by nature slaves. The rule of a 
household is a monarchy, for every house is under one head: whereas 
constitutional rule is a government of freemen and equals. The 
master is not called a master because he has science, but because he 
is of a certain character, and the same remark applies to the slave 
and the freeman. Still there may be a science for the master and 
science for the slave. The science of the slave would be such as the 
man of Syracuse taught, who made money by instructing slaves in 
their ordinary duties. And such a knowledge may be carried further, so 
as to include cookery and similar menial arts. For some duties are 
of the more necessary, others of the more honorable sort; as the 
proverb says, 'slave before slave, master before master.' But all such 
branches of knowledge are servile. There is likewise a science of 
the master, which teaches the use of slaves; for the master as such is 
concerned, not with the acquisition, but with the use of them. Yet 
this so-called science is not anything great or wonderful; for the 
master need only know how to order that which the slave must know 
how to execute. Hence those who are in a position which places them 
above toil have stewards who attend to their households while they 
occupy themselves with philosophy or with politics. But the art of 
acquiring slaves, I mean of justly acquiring them, differs both from 
the art of the master and the art of the slave, being a species of 
hunting or war. Enough of the distinction between master and slave. 


Let us now inquire into property generally, and into the art of 
getting wealth, in accordance with our usual method, for a slave has 
been shown to be a part of property. The first question is whether the 
art of getting wealth is the same with the art of managing a household 
or a part of it, or instrumental to it; and if the last, whether in 
the way that the art of making shuttles is instrumental to the art 
of weaving, or in the way that the casting of bronze is instrumental 
to the art of the statuary, for they are not instrumental in the 
same way, but the one provides tools and the other material; and by 
material I mean the substratum out of which any work is made; thus 
wool is the material of the weaver, bronze of the statuary. Now it 
is easy to see that the art of household management is not identical 
with the art of getting wealth, for the one uses the material which 
the other provides. For the art which uses household stores can be 

no other than the art of household management. There is, however, a 
doubt whether the art of getting wealth is a part of household 
management or a distinct art. If the getter of wealth has to 
consider whence wealth and property can be procured, but there are 
many sorts of property and riches, then are husbandry, and the care 
and provision of food in general, parts of the wealth-getting art or 
distinct arts? Again, there are many sorts of food, and therefore 
there are many kinds of lives both of animals and men; they must all 
have food, and the differences in their food have made differences 
in their ways of life. For of beasts, some are gregarious, others 
are solitary; they live in the way which is best adapted to sustain 
them, accordingly as they are carnivorous or herbivorous or 
omnivorous: and their habits are determined for them by nature in such 
a manner that they may obtain with greater facility the food of 
their choice. But, as different species have different tastes, the 
same things are not naturally pleasant to all of them; and therefore 
the lives of carnivorous or herbivorous animals further differ among 
themselves. In the lives of men too there is a great difference. The 
laziest are shepherds, who lead an idle life, and get their 
subsistence without trouble from tame animals; their flocks having 
to wander from place to place in search of pasture, they are compelled 
to follow them, cultivating a sort of living farm. Others support 
themselves by hunting, which is of different kinds. Some, for example, 
are brigands, others, who dwell near lakes or marshes or rivers or a 
sea in which there are fish, are fishermen, and others live by the 
pursuit of birds or wild beasts. The greater number obtain a living 
from the cultivated fruits of the soil. Such are the modes of 
subsistence which prevail among those whose industry springs up of 
itself, and whose food is not acquired by exchange and retail trade- 
there is the shepherd, the husbandman, the brigand, the fisherman, the 
hunter. Some gain a comfortable maintenance out of two employments, 
eking out the deficiencies of one of them by another: thus the life of 
a shepherd may be combined with that of a brigand, the life of a 
farmer with that of a hunter. Other modes of life are similarly 
combined in any way which the needs of men may require. Property, in 
the sense of a bare livelihood, seems to be given by nature herself to 
all, both when they are first born, and when they are grown up. For 
some animals bring forth, together with their offspring, so much 
food as will last until they are able to supply themselves; of this 
the vermiparous or oviparous animals are an instance; and the 
viviparous animals have up to a certain time a supply of food for 
their young in themselves, which is called milk. In like manner we may 
infer that, after the birth of animals, plants exist for their sake, 
and that the other animals exist for the sake of man, the tame for use 
and food, the wild, if not all at least the greater part of them, 
for food, and for the provision of clothing and various instruments. 
Now if nature makes nothing incomplete, and nothing in vain, the 
inference must be that she has made all animals for the sake of man. 
And so, in one point of view, the art of war is a natural art of 
acquisition, for the art of acquisition includes hunting, an art which 
we ought to practice against wild beasts, and against men who, 
though intended by nature to be governed, will not submit; for war 
of such a kind is naturally just. 

Of the art of acquisition then there is one kind which by nature 
is a part of the management of a household, in so far as the art of 
household management must either find ready to hand, or itself 
provide, such things necessary to life, and useful for the community 
of the family or state, as can be stored. They are the elements of 
true riches; for the amount of property which is needed for a good 
life is not unlimited, although Solon in one of his poems says that 

No bound to riches has been fixed for man. 

But there is a boundary fixed, just as there is in the other arts; for 

the instruments of any art are never unlimited, either in number or 
size, and riches may be defined as a number of instruments to be 
used in a household or in a state. And so we see that there is a 
natural art of acquisition which is practiced by managers of 
households and by statesmen, and what is the reason of this. 


There is another variety of the art of acquisition which is commonly 
and rightly called an art of wealth-getting, and has in fact suggested 
the notion that riches and property have no limit. Being nearly 
connected with the preceding, it is often identified with it. But 
though they are not very different, neither are they the same. The 
kind already described is given by nature, the other is gained by 
experience and art. 

Let us begin our discussion of the question with the following 
considerations : 

Of everything which we possess there are two uses: both belong to 
the thing as such, but not in the same manner, for one is the 
proper, and the other the improper or secondary use of it. For 
example, a shoe is used for wear, and is used for exchange; both are 
uses of the shoe. He who gives a shoe in exchange for money or food to 
him who wants one, does indeed use the shoe as a shoe, but this is not 
its proper or primary purpose, for a shoe is not made to be an 
object of barter. The same may be said of all possessions, for the art 
of exchange extends to all of them, and it arises at first from what 
is natural, from the circumstance that some have too little, others 
too much. Hence we may infer that retail trade is not a natural part 
of the art of getting wealth; had it been so, men would have ceased to 
exchange when they had enough. In the first community, indeed, which 
is the family, this art is obviously of no use, but it begins to be 
useful when the society increases. For the members of the family 
originally had all things in common; later, when the family divided 
into parts, the parts shared in many things, and different parts in 
different things, which they had to give in exchange for what they 
wanted, a kind of barter which is still practiced among barbarous 
nations who exchange with one another the necessaries of life and 
nothing more; giving and receiving wine, for example, in exchange 
for coin, and the like. This sort of barter is not part of the 
wealth-getting art and is not contrary to nature, but is needed for 
the satisfaction of men's natural wants. The other or more complex 
form of exchange grew, as might have been inferred, out of the 
simpler. When the inhabitants of one country became more dependent 
on those of another, and they imported what they needed, and 
exported what they had too much of, money necessarily came into use. 
For the various necessaries of life are not easily carried about, 
and hence men agreed to employ in their dealings with each other 
something which was intrinsically useful and easily applicable to 
the purposes of life, for example, iron, silver, and the like. Of this 
the value was at first measured simply by size and weight, but in 
process of time they put a stamp upon it, to save the trouble of 
weighing and to mark the value. 

When the use of coin had once been discovered, out of the barter 
of necessary articles arose the other art of wealth getting, namely, 
retail trade; which was at first probably a simple matter, but 
became more complicated as soon as men learned by experience whence 
and by what exchanges the greatest profit might be made. Originating 
in the use of coin, the art of getting wealth is generally thought 
to be chiefly concerned with it, and to be the art which produces 
riches and wealth; having to consider how they may be accumulated. 
Indeed, riches is assumed by many to be only a quantity of coin, 
because the arts of getting wealth and retail trade are concerned with 
coin. Others maintain that coined money is a mere sham, a thing not 
natural, but conventional only, because, if the users substitute 
another commodity for it, it is worthless, and because it is not 

useful as a means to any of the necessities of life, and, indeed, he 
who is rich in coin may often be in want of necessary food. But how 
can that be wealth of which a man may have a great abundance and yet 
perish with hunger, like Midas in the fable, whose insatiable prayer 
turned everything that was set before him into gold? 

Hence men seek after a better notion of riches and of the art of 
getting wealth than the mere acquisition of coin, and they are 
right. For natural riches and the natural art of wealth-getting are 
a different thing; in their true form they are part of the 
management of a household; whereas retail trade is the art of 
producing wealth, not in every way, but by exchange. And it is thought 
to be concerned with coin; for coin is the unit of exchange and the 
measure or limit of it. And there is no bound to the riches which 
spring from this art of wealth getting. As in the art of medicine 
there is no limit to the pursuit of health, and as in the other arts 
there is no limit to the pursuit of their several ends, for they aim 
at accomplishing their ends to the uttermost (but of the means there 
is a limit, for the end is always the limit) , so, too, in this art 
of wealth-getting there is no limit of the end, which is riches of the 
spurious kind, and the acquisition of wealth. But the art of 
wealth-getting which consists in household management, on the other 
hand, has a limit; the unlimited acquisition of wealth is not its 
business. And, therefore, in one point of view, all riches must have a 
limit; nevertheless, as a matter of fact, we find the opposite to be 
the case; for all getters of wealth increase their hoard of coin 
without limit. The source of the confusion is the near connection 
between the two kinds of wealth-getting; in either, the instrument 
is the same, although the use is different, and so they pass into 
one another; for each is a use of the same property, but with a 
difference: accumulation is the end in the one case, but there is a 
further end in the other. Hence some persons are led to believe that 
getting wealth is the object of household management, and the whole 
idea of their lives is that they ought either to increase their 
money without limit, or at any rate not to lose it. The origin of this 
disposition in men is that they are intent upon living only, and not 
upon living well; and, as their desires are unlimited they also desire 
that the means of gratifying them should be without limit. Those who 
do aim at a good life seek the means of obtaining bodily pleasures; 
and, since the enjoyment of these appears to depend on property, 
they are absorbed in getting wealth: and so there arises the second 
species of wealth-getting. For, as their enjoyment is in excess, 
they seek an art which produces the excess of enjoyment; and, if 
they are not able to supply their pleasures by the art of getting 
wealth, they try other arts, using in turn every faculty in a manner 
contrary to nature. The quality of courage, for example, is not 
intended to make wealth, but to inspire confidence; neither is this 
the aim of the general's or of the physician's art; but the one aims 
at victory and the other at health. Nevertheless, some men turn 
every quality or art into a means of getting wealth; this they 
conceive to be the end, and to the promotion of the end they think all 
things must contribute. 

Thus, then, we have considered the art of wealth-getting which is 
unnecessary, and why men want it; and also the necessary art of 
wealth-getting, which we have seen to be different from the other, and 
to be a natural part of the art of managing a household, concerned 
with the provision of food, not, however, like the former kind, 
unlimited, but having a limit. 


And we have found the answer to our original question, Whether the 
art of getting wealth is the business of the manager of a household 
and of the statesman or not their business? viz., that wealth is 
presupposed by them. For as political science does not make men, but 
takes them from nature and uses them, so too nature provides them with 

earth or sea or the like as a source of food. At this stage begins the 
duty of the manager of a household, who has to order the things 
which nature supplies; he may be compared to the weaver who has not to 
make but to use wool, and to know, too, what sort of wool is good 
and serviceable or bad and unserviceable. Were this otherwise, it 
would be difficult to see why the art of getting wealth is a part of 
the management of a household and the art of medicine not; for 
surely the members of a household must have health just as they must 
have life or any other necessary. The answer is that as from one point 
of view the master of the house and the ruler of the state have to 
consider about health, from another point of view not they but the 
physician; so in one way the art of household management, in another 
way the subordinate art, has to consider about wealth. But, strictly 
speaking, as I have already said, the means of life must be provided 
beforehand by nature; for the business of nature is to furnish food to 
that which is born, and the food of the offspring is always what 
remains over of that from which it is produced. Wherefore the art of 
getting wealth out of fruits and animals is always natural. 

There are two sorts of wealth-getting, as I have said; one is a part 
of household management, the other is retail trade: the former 
necessary and honorable, while that which consists in exchange is 
justly censured; for it is unnatural, and a mode by which men gain 
from one another. The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, 
is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the 
natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, 
but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means 
the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money 
because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of an modes of 
getting wealth this is the most unnatural. 


Enough has been said about the theory of wealth-getting; we will now 
proceed to the practical part. The discussion of such matters is not 
unworthy of philosophy, but to be engaged in them practically is 
illiberal and irksome. The useful parts of wealth-getting are, 
first, the knowledge of livestock- which are most profitable, and 
where, and how- as, for example, what sort of horses or sheep or 
oxen or any other animals are most likely to give a return. A man 
ought to know which of these pay better than others, and which pay 
best in particular places, for some do better in one place and some in 
another. Secondly, husbandry, which may be either tillage or planting, 
and the keeping of bees and of fish, or fowl, or of any animals 
which may be useful to man. These are the divisions of the true or 
proper art of wealth-getting and come first. Of the other, which 
consists in exchange, the first and most important division is 
commerce (of which there are three kinds- the provision of a ship, the 
conveyance of goods, exposure for sale- these again differing as 
they are safer or more profitable) , the second is usury, the third, 
service for hire- of this, one kind is employed in the mechanical 
arts, the other in unskilled and bodily labor. There is still a 
third sort of wealth getting intermediate between this and the first 
or natural mode which is partly natural, but is also concerned with 
exchange, viz., the industries that make their profit from the 
earth, and from things growing from the earth which, although they 
bear no fruit, are nevertheless profitable; for example, the cutting 
of timber and all mining. The art of mining, by which minerals are 
obtained, itself has many branches, for there are various kinds of 
things dug out of the earth. Of the several divisions of 
wealth-getting I now speak generally; a minute consideration of them 
might be useful in practice, but it would be tiresome to dwell upon 
them at greater length now. 

Those occupations are most truly arts in which there is the least 
element of chance; they are the meanest in which the body is most 
deteriorated, the most servile in which there is the greatest use of 

the body, and the most illiberal in which there is the least need of 
excellence . 

Works have been written upon these subjects by various persons; 
for example, by Chares the Parian, and Apollodorus the Lemnian, who 
have treated of Tillage and Planting, while others have treated of 
other branches; any one who cares for such matters may refer to 
their writings. It would be well also to collect the scattered stories 
of the ways in which individuals have succeeded in amassing a fortune; 
for all this is useful to persons who value the art of getting wealth. 
There is the anecdote of Thales the Milesian and his financial device, 
which involves a principle of universal application, but is attributed 
to him on account of his reputation for wisdom. He was reproached 
for his poverty, which was supposed to show that philosophy was of 
no use. According to the story, he knew by his skill in the stars 
while it was yet winter that there would be a great harvest of 
olives in the coming year; so, having a little money, he gave deposits 
for the use of all the olive-presses in Chios and Miletus, which he 
hired at a low price because no one bid against him. When the 
harvest-time came, and many were wanted all at once and of a sudden, 
he let them out at any rate which he pleased, and made a quantity of 
money. Thus he showed the world that philosophers can easily be rich 
if they like, but that their ambition is of another sort. He is 
supposed to have given a striking proof of his wisdom, but, as I was 
saying, his device for getting wealth is of universal application, and 
is nothing but the creation of a monopoly. It is an art often 
practiced by cities when they are want of money; they make a 
monopoly of provisions. 

There was a man of Sicily, who, having money deposited with him, 
bought up an the iron from the iron mines; afterwards, when the 
merchants from their various markets came to buy, he was the only 
seller, and without much increasing the price he gained 200 per 
cent. Which when Dionysius heard, he told him that he might take 
away his money, but that he must not remain at Syracuse, for he 
thought that the man had discovered a way of making money which was 
injurious to his own interests. He made the same discovery as 
Thales; they both contrived to create a monopoly for themselves. And 
statesmen as well ought to know these things; for a state is often 
as much in want of money and of such devices for obtaining it as a 
household, or even more so; hence some public men devote themselves 
entirely to finance. 


Of household management we have seen that there are three parts- one 
is the rule of a master over slaves, which has been discussed already, 
another of a father, and the third of a husband. A husband and father, 
we saw, rules over wife and children, both free, but the rule differs, 
the rule over his children being a royal, over his wife a 
constitutional rule. For although there may be exceptions to the order 
of nature, the male is by nature fitter for command than the female, 
just as the elder and full-grown is superior to the younger and more 
immature. But in most constitutional states the citizens rule and 
are ruled by turns, for the idea of a constitutional state implies 
that the natures of the citizens are equal, and do not differ at 
all. Nevertheless, when one rules and the other is ruled we endeavor 
to create a difference of outward forms and names and titles of 
respect, which may be illustrated by the saying of Amasis about his 
foot-pan. The relation of the male to the female is of this kind, 
but there the inequality is permanent. The rule of a father over his 
children is royal, for he rules by virtue both of love and of the 
respect due to age, exercising a kind of royal power. And therefore 
Homer has appropriately called Zeus ' father of Gods and men, ' 
because he is the king of them all. For a king is the natural superior 
of his subjects, but he should be of the same kin or kind with them, 
and such is the relation of elder and younger, of father and son. 


Thus it is clear that household management attends more to men 
than to the acquisition of inanimate things, and to human excellence 
more than to the excellence of property which we call wealth, and to 
the virtue of freemen more than to the virtue of slaves. A question 
may indeed be raised, whether there is any excellence at all in a 
slave beyond and higher than merely instrumental and ministerial 
qualities- whether he can have the virtues of temperance, courage, 
justice, and the like; or whether slaves possess only bodily and 
ministerial qualities. And, whichever way we answer the question, a 
difficulty arises; for, if they have virtue, in what will they 
differ from freemen? On the other hand, since they are men and share 
in rational principle, it seems absurd to say that they have no 
virtue. A similar question may be raised about women and children, 
whether they too have virtues: ought a woman to be temperate and brave 
and just, and is a child to be called temperate, and intemperate, or 
note So in general we may ask about the natural ruler, and the natural 
subject, whether they have the same or different virtues. For if a 
noble nature is equally required in both, why should one of them 
always rule, and the other always be ruled? Nor can we say that this 
is a question of degree, for the difference between ruler and 
subject is a difference of kind, which the difference of more and less 
never is. Yet how strange is the supposition that the one ought, and 
that the other ought not, to have virtue! For if the ruler is 
intemperate and unjust, how can he rule well? If the subject, how 
can he obey well? If he be licentious and cowardly, he will 
certainly not do his duty. It is evident, therefore, that both of them 
must have a share of virtue, but varying as natural subjects also vary 
among themselves. Here the very constitution of the soul has shown 
us the way; in it one part naturally rules, and the other is 
subject, and the virtue of the ruler we in maintain to be different 
from that of the subject; the one being the virtue of the rational, 
and the other of the irrational part. Now, it is obvious that the same 
principle applies generally, and therefore almost all things rule 
and are ruled according to nature. But the kind of rule differs; the 
freeman rules over the slave after another manner from that in which 
the male rules over the female, or the man over the child; although 
the parts of the soul are present in an of them, they are present in 
different degrees. For the slave has no deliberative faculty at all; 
the woman has, but it is without authority, and the child has, but 
it is immature. So it must necessarily be supposed to be with the 
moral virtues also; all should partake of them, but only in such 
manner and degree as is required by each for the fulfillment of his 
duty. Hence the ruler ought to have moral virtue in perfection, for 
his function, taken absolutely, demands a master artificer, and 
rational principle is such an artificer; the subjects, oil the other 
hand, require only that measure of virtue which is proper to each of 
them. Clearly, then, moral virtue belongs to all of them; but the 
temperance of a man and of a woman, or the courage and justice of a 
man and of a woman, are not, as Socrates maintained, the same; the 
courage of a man is shown in commanding, of a woman in obeying. And 
this holds of all other virtues, as will be more clearly seen if we 
look at them in detail, for those who say generally that virtue 
consists in a good disposition of the soul, or in doing rightly, or 
the like, only deceive themselves. Far better than such definitions is 
their mode of speaking, who, like Gorgias, enumerate the virtues. 
All classes must be deemed to have their special attributes; as the 
poet says of women, 

Silence is a woman's glory, 

but this is not equally the glory of man. The child is imperfect, 
and therefore obviously his virtue is not relative to himself alone, 

but to the perfect man and to his teacher, and in like manner the 
virtue of the slave is relative to a master. Now we determined that 
a slave is useful for the wants of life, and therefore he will 
obviously require only so much virtue as will prevent him from failing 
in his duty through cowardice or lack of self-control. Some one will 
ask whether, if what we are saying is true, virtue will not be 
required also in the artisans, for they often fail in their work 
through the lack of self control? But is there not a great 
difference in the two cases? For the slave shares in his master's 
life; the artisan is less closely connected with him, and only attains 
excellence in proportion as he becomes a slave. The meaner sort of 
mechanic has a special and separate slavery; and whereas the slave 
exists by nature, not so the shoemaker or other artisan. It is 
manifest, then, that the master ought to be the source of such 
excellence in the slave, and not a mere possessor of the art of 
mastership which trains the slave in his duties. Wherefore they are 
mistaken who forbid us to converse with slaves and say that we 
should employ command only, for slaves stand even more in need of 
admonition than children. 

So much for this subject; the relations of husband and wife, 
parent and child, their several virtues, what in their intercourse 
with one another is good, and what is evil, and how we may pursue 
the good and good and escape the evil, will have to be discussed 
when we speak of the different forms of government. For, inasmuch as 
every family is a part of a state, and these relationships are the 
parts of a family, and the virtue of the part must have regard to 
the virtue of the whole, women and children must be trained by 
education with an eye to the constitution, if the virtues of either of 
them are supposed to make any difference in the virtues of the 
state. And they must make a difference: for the children grow up to be 
citizens, and half the free persons in a state are women. 

Of these matters, enough has been said; of what remains, let us 
speak at another time. Regarding, then, our present inquiry as 
complete, we will make a new beginning. And, first, let us examine the 
various theories of a perfect state. 


OUR PURPOSE is to consider what form of political community is 
best of all for those who are most able to realize their ideal of 
life. We must therefore examine not only this but other constitutions, 
both such as actually exist in well-governed states, and any 
theoretical forms which are held in esteem; that what is good and 
useful may be brought to light. And let no one suppose that in seeking 
for something beyond them we are anxious to make a sophistical display 
at any cost; we only undertake this inquiry because all the 
constitutions with which we are acquainted are faulty. 

We will begin with the natural beginning of the subject. Three 
alternatives are conceivable: The members of a state must either 
have (1) all things or (2) nothing in common, or (3) some things in 
common and some not. That they should have nothing in common is 
clearly impossible, for the constitution is a community, and must at 
any rate have a common place- one city will be in one place, and the 
citizens are those who share in that one city. But should a well 
ordered state have all things, as far as may be, in common, or some 
only and not others? For the citizens might conceivably have wives and 
children and property in common, as Socrates proposes in the 
Republic of Plato. Which is better, our present condition, or the 
proposed new order of society. 


There are many difficulties in the community of women. And the 
principle on which Socrates rests the necessity of such an institution 
evidently is not established by his arguments. Further, as a means 

to the end which he ascribes to the state, the scheme, taken literally 
is impracticable, and how we are to interpret it is nowhere 
precisely stated. I am speaking of the premise from which the argument 
of Socrates proceeds, 'that the greater the unity of the state the 
better. ' Is it not obvious that a state may at length attain such a 
degree of unity as to be no longer a state? since the nature of a 
state is to be a plurality, and in tending to greater unity, from 
being a state, it becomes a family, and from being a family, an 
individual; for the family may be said to be more than the state, 
and the individual than the family. So that we ought not to attain 
this greatest unity even if we could, for it would be the 
destruction of the state. Again, a state is not made up only of so 
many men, but of different kinds of men; for similars do not 
constitute a state. It is not like a military alliance The 
usefulness of the latter depends upon its quantity even where there is 
no difference in quality (for mutual protection is the end aimed 
at), just as a greater weight of anything is more useful than a less 
(in like manner, a state differs from a nation, when the nation has 
not its population organized in villages, but lives an Arcadian sort 
of life) ; but the elements out of which a unity is to be formed differ 
in kind. Wherefore the principle of compensation, as I have already 
remarked in the Ethics, is the salvation of states. Even among freemen 
and equals this is a principle which must be maintained, for they 
cannot an rule together, but must change at the end of a year or 
some other period of time or in some order of succession. The result 
is that upon this plan they all govern; just as if shoemakers and 
carpenters were to exchange their occupations, and the same persons 
did not always continue shoemakers and carpenters. And since it is 
better that this should be so in politics as well, it is clear that 
while there should be continuance of the same persons in power where 
this is possible, yet where this is not possible by reason of the 
natural equality of the citizens, and at the same time it is just that 
an should share in the government (whether to govern be a good thing 
or a bad) , an approximation to this is that equals should in turn 
retire from office and should, apart from official position, be 
treated alike. Thus the one party rule and the others are ruled in 
turn, as if they were no longer the same persons. In like manner 
when they hold office there is a variety in the offices held. Hence it 
is evident that a city is not by nature one in that sense which some 
persons affirm; and that what is said to be the greatest good of 
cities is in reality their destruction; but surely the good of 
things must be that which preserves them. Again, in another point of 
view, this extreme unification of the state is clearly not good; for a 
family is more self-sufficing than an individual, and a city than a 
family, and a city only comes into being when the community is large 
enough to be self-sufficing. If then self-sufficiency is to be 
desired, the lesser degree of unity is more desirable than the 
greater . 


But, even supposing that it were best for the community to have 
the greatest degree of unity, this unity is by no means proved to 
follow from the fact 'of all men saying "mine" and "not mine" at the 
same instant of time, ' which, according to Socrates, is the sign of 
perfect unity in a state. For the word 'all' is ambiguous. If the 
meaning be that every individual says 'mine' and 'not mine' at the 
same time, then perhaps the result at which Socrates aims may be in 
some degree accomplished; each man will call the same person his own 
son and the same person his wife, and so of his property and of all 
that falls to his lot. This, however, is not the way in which people 
would speak who had their had their wives and children in common; they 
would say 'all' but not 'each. ' In like manner their property would be 
described as belonging to them, not severally but collectively. 
There is an obvious fallacy in the term 'all' : like some other 

words, 'both, ' 'odd, ' 'even, ' it is ambiguous, and even in abstract 
argument becomes a source of logical puzzles. That all persons call 
the same thing mine in the sense in which each does so may be a fine 
thing, but it is impracticable; or if the words are taken in the other 
sense, such a unity in no way conduces to harmony. And there is 
another objection to the proposal. For that which is common to the 
greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it. Every one 
thinks chiefly of his own, hardly at all of the common interest; and 
only when he is himself concerned as an individual. For besides 
other considerations, everybody is more inclined to neglect the duty 
which he expects another to fulfill; as in families many attendants 
are often less useful than a few. Each citizen will have a thousand 
sons who will not be his sons individually but anybody will be equally 
the son of anybody, and will therefore be neglected by all alike. 
Further, upon this principle, every one will use the word 'mine' of 
one who is prospering or the reverse, however small a fraction he 
may himself be of the whole number; the same boy will be 'so and 
so's son, ' the son of each of the thousand, or whatever be the 
number of the citizens; and even about this he will not be positive; 
for it is impossible to know who chanced to have a child, or 
whether, if one came into existence, it has survived. But which is 
better- for each to say 'mine' in this way, making a man the same 
relation to two thousand or ten thousand citizens, or to use the 
word 'mine' in the ordinary and more restricted sense? For usually the 
same person is called by one man his own son whom another calls his 
own brother or cousin or kinsman- blood relation or connection by 
marriage either of himself or of some relation of his, and yet another 
his clansman or tribesman; and how much better is it to be the real 
cousin of somebody than to be a son after Plato's fashion! Nor is 
there any way of preventing brothers and children and fathers and 
mothers from sometimes recognizing one another; for children are 
born like their parents, and they will necessarily be finding 
indications of their relationship to one another. Geographers 
declare such to be the fact; they say that in part of Upper Libya, 
where the women are common, nevertheless the children who are born are 
assigned to their respective fathers on the ground of their 
likeness. And some women, like the females of other animals- for 
example, mares and cows- have a strong tendency to produce offspring 
resembling their parents, as was the case with the Pharsalian mare 
called Honest. 


Other evils, against which it is not easy for the authors of such 
a community to guard, will be assaults and homicides, voluntary as 
well as involuntary, quarrels and slanders, all which are most 
unholy acts when committed against fathers and mothers and near 
relations, but not equally unholy when there is no relationship. 
Moreover, they are much more likely to occur if the relationship is 
unknown, and, when they have occurred, the customary expiations of 
them cannot be made. Again, how strange it is that Socrates, after 
having made the children common, should hinder lovers from carnal 
intercourse only, but should permit love and familiarities between 
father and son or between brother and brother, than which nothing 
can be more unseemly, since even without them love of this sort is 
improper. How strange, too, to forbid intercourse for no other 
reason than the violence of the pleasure, as though the relationship 
of father and son or of brothers with one another made no difference. 

This community of wives and children seems better suited to the 
husbandmen than to the guardians, for if they have wives and 
children in common, they will be bound to one another by weaker 
ties, as a subject class should be, and they will remain obedient 
and not rebel. In a word, the result of such a law would be just the 
opposite of which good laws ought to have, and the intention of 
Socrates in making these regulations about women and children would 

defeat itself. For friendship we believe to be the greatest good of 
states and the preservative of them against revolutions; neither is 
there anything which Socrates so greatly lauds as the unity of the 
state which he and all the world declare to be created by 
friendship. But the unity which he commends would be like that of 
the lovers in the Symposium, who, as Aristophanes says, desire to grow 
together in the excess of their affection, and from being two to 
become one, in which case one or both would certainly perish. 
Whereas in a state having women and children common, love will be 
watery; and the father will certainly not say 'my son, ' or the son 'my 
father.' As a little sweet wine mingled with a great deal of water 
is imperceptible in the mixture, so, in this sort of community, the 
idea of relationship which is based upon these names will be lost; 
there is no reason why the so-called father should care about the son, 
or the son about the father, or brothers about one another. Of the two 
qualities which chiefly inspire regard and affection- that a thing 
is your own and that it is your only one-neither can exist in such a 
state as this. 

Again, the transfer of children as soon as they are born from the 
rank of husbandmen or of artisans to that of guardians, and from the 
rank of guardians into a lower rank, will be very difficult to 
arrange; the givers or transferrers cannot but know whom they are 
giving and transferring, and to whom. And the previously mentioned 
evils, such as assaults, unlawful loves, homicides, will happen more 
often amongst those who are transferred to the lower classes, or who 
have a place assigned to them among the guardians; for they will no 
longer call the members of the class they have left brothers, and 
children, and fathers, and mothers, and will not, therefore, be afraid 
of committing any crimes by reason of consanguinity. Touching the 
community of wives and children, let this be our conclusion. 


Next let us consider what should be our arrangements about property: 
should the citizens of the perfect state have their possessions in 
common or not? This question may be discussed separately from the 
enactments about women and children. Even supposing that the women and 
children belong to individuals, according to the custom which is at 
present universal, may there not be an advantage in having and using 
possessions in common? Three cases are possible: (1) the soil may be 
appropriated, but the produce may be thrown for consumption into the 
common stock; and this is the practice of some nations. Or (2), the 
soil may be common, and may be cultivated in common, but the produce 
divided among individuals for their private use; this is a form of 
common property which is said to exist among certain barbarians. Or 
(3), the soil and the produce may be alike common. 

When the husbandmen are not the owners, the case will be different 
and easier to deal with; but when they till the ground for 
themselves the question of ownership will give a world of trouble. 
If they do not share equally enjoyments and toils, those who labor 
much and get little will necessarily complain of those who labor 
little and receive or consume much. But indeed there is always a 
difficulty in men living together and having all human relations in 
common, but especially in their having common property. The 
partnerships of fellow-travelers are an example to the point; for they 
generally fall out over everyday matters and quarrel about any 
trifle which turns up. So with servants: we are most able to take 
offense at those with whom we most we most frequently come into 
contact in daily life. 

These are only some of the disadvantages which attend the 
community of property; the present arrangement, if improved as it 
might be by good customs and laws, would be far better, and would have 
the advantages of both systems. Property should be in a certain 
sense common, but, as a general rule, private; for, when everyone 
has a distinct interest, men will not complain of one another, and 

they will make more progress, because every one will be attending to 
his own business. And yet by reason of goodness, and in respect of 
use, 'Friends, ' as the proverb says, 'will have all things common. ' 
Even now there are traces of such a principle, showing that it is 
not impracticable, but, in well-ordered states, exists already to a 
certain extent and may be carried further. For, although every man has 
his own property, some things he will place at the disposal of his 
friends, while of others he shares the use with them. The 
Lacedaemonians, for example, use one another's slaves, and horses, and 
dogs, as if they were their own; and when they lack provisions on a 
journey, they appropriate what they find in the fields throughout 
the country. It is clearly better that property should be private, but 
the use of it common; and the special business of the legislator is to 
create in men this benevolent disposition. Again, how immeasurably 
greater is the pleasure, when a man feels a thing to be his own; for 
surely the love of self is a feeling implanted by nature and not given 
in vain, although selfishness is rightly censured; this, however, is 
not the mere love of self, but the love of self in excess, like the 
miser's love of money; for all, or almost all, men love money and 
other such objects in a measure. And further, there is the greatest 
pleasure in doing a kindness or service to friends or guests or 
companions, which can only be rendered when a man has private 
property. These advantages are lost by excessive unification of the 
state. The exhibition of two virtues, besides, is visibly 
annihilated in such a state: first, temperance towards women (for it 
is an honorable action to abstain from another's wife for 
temperance' sake); secondly, liberality in the matter of property. 
No one, when men have all things in common, will any longer set an 
example of liberality or do any liberal action; for liberality 
consists in the use which is made of property. 

Such legislation may have a specious appearance of benevolence; 
men readily listen to it, and are easily induced to believe that in 
some wonderful manner everybody will become everybody's friend, 
especially when some one is heard denouncing the evils now existing in 
states, suits about contracts, convictions for perjury, flatteries 
of rich men and the like, which are said to arise out of the 
possession of private property. These evils, however, are due to a 
very different cause- the wickedness of human nature. Indeed, we see 
that there is much more quarrelling among those who have all things in 
common, though there are not many of them when compared with the 
vast numbers who have private property. 

Again, we ought to reckon, not only the evils from which the 
citizens will be saved, but also the advantages which they will 
lose. The life which they are to lead appears to be quite 
impracticable. The error of Socrates must be attributed to the false 
notion of unity from which he starts. Unity there should be, both of 
the family and of the state, but in some respects only. For there is a 
point at which a state may attain such a degree of unity as to be no 
longer a state, or at which, without actually ceasing to exist, it 
will become an inferior state, like harmony passing into unison, or 
rhythm which has been reduced to a single foot. The state, as I was 
saying, is a plurality which should be united and made into a 
community by education; and it is strange that the author of a 
system of education which he thinks will make the state virtuous, 
should expect to improve his citizens by regulations of this sort, and 
not by philosophy or by customs and laws, like those which prevail 
at Sparta and Crete respecting common meals, whereby the legislator 
has made property common. Let us remember that we should not disregard 
the experience of ages; in the multitude of years these things, if 
they were good, would certainly not have been unknown; for almost 
everything has been found out, although sometimes they are not put 
together; in other cases men do not use the knowledge which they have. 
Great light would be thrown on this subject if we could see such a 
form of government in the actual process of construction; for the 

legislator could not form a state at all without distributing and 
dividing its constituents into associations for common meals, and into 
phratries and tribes. But all this legislation ends only in forbidding 
agriculture to the guardians, a prohibition which the Lacedaemonians 
try to enforce already. 

But, indeed, Socrates has not said, nor is it easy to decide, what 
in such a community will be the general form of the state. The 
citizens who are not guardians are the majority, and about them 
nothing has been determined: are the husbandmen, too, to have their 
property in common? Or is each individual to have his own? And are the 
wives and children to be individual or common. If, like the guardians, 
they are to have all things in common, what do they differ from 
them, or what will they gain by submitting to their government? Or, 
upon what principle would they submit, unless indeed the governing 
class adopt the ingenious policy of the Cretans, who give their slaves 
the same institutions as their own, but forbid them gymnastic 
exercises and the possession of arms. If, on the other hand, the 
inferior classes are to be like other cities in respect of marriage 
and property, what will be the form of the community? Must it not 
contain two states in one, each hostile to the other He makes the 
guardians into a mere occupying garrison, while the husbandmen and 
artisans and the rest are the real citizens. But if so the suits and 
quarrels, and all the evils which Socrates affirms to exist in other 
states, will exist equally among them. He says indeed that, having 
so good an education, the citizens will not need many laws, for 
example laws about the city or about the markets; but then he confines 
his education to the guardians. Again, he makes the husbandmen 
owners of the property upon condition of their paying a tribute. But 
in that case they are likely to be much more unmanageable and 
conceited than the Helots, or Penestae, or slaves in general. And 
whether community of wives and property be necessary for the lower 
equally with the higher class or not, and the questions akin to 
this, what will be the education, form of government, laws of the 
lower class, Socrates has nowhere determined: neither is it easy to 
discover this, nor is their character of small importance if the 
common life of the guardians is to be maintained. 

Again, if Socrates makes the women common, and retains private 
property, the men will see to the fields, but who will see to the 
house? And who will do so if the agricultural class have both their 
property and their wives in common? Once more: it is absurd to 
argue, from the analogy of the animals, that men and women should 
follow the same pursuits, for animals have not to manage a 
household. The government, too, as constituted by Socrates, contains 
elements of danger; for he makes the same persons always rule. And 
if this is often a cause of disturbance among the meaner sort, how 
much more among high-spirited warriors? But that the persons whom he 
makes rulers must be the same is evident; for the gold which the God 
mingles in the souls of men is not at one time given to one, at 
another time to another, but always to the same: as he says, 'God 
mingles gold in some, and silver in others, from their very birth; but 
brass and iron in those who are meant to be artisans and 
husbandmen.' Again, he deprives the guardians even of happiness, and 
says that the legislator ought to make the whole state happy. But 
the whole cannot be happy unless most, or all, or some of its parts 
enjoy happiness. In this respect happiness is not like the even 
principle in numbers, which may exist only in the whole, but in 
neither of the parts; not so happiness. And if the guardians are not 
happy, who are? Surely not the artisans, or the common people. The 
Republic of which Socrates discourses has all these difficulties, 
and others quite as great. 


The same, or nearly the same, objections apply to Plato's later 
work, the Laws, and therefore we had better examine briefly the 

constitution which is therein described. In the Republic, Socrates has 
definitely settled in all a few questions only; such as the 
community of women and children, the community of property, and the 
constitution of the state. The population is divided into two classes- 
one of husbandmen, and the other of warriors; from this latter is 
taken a third class of counselors and rulers of the state. But 
Socrates has not determined whether the husbandmen and artisans are to 
have a share in the government, and whether they, too, are to carry 
arms and share in military service, or not. He certainly thinks that 
the women ought to share in the education of the guardians, and to 
fight by their side. The remainder of the work is filled up with 
digressions foreign to the main subject, and with discussions about 
the education of the guardians. In the Laws there is hardly anything 
but laws; not much is said about the constitution. This, which he 
had intended to make more of the ordinary type, he gradually brings 
round to the other or ideal form. For with the exception of the 
community of women and property, he supposes everything to be the same 
in both states; there is to be the same education; the citizens of 
both are to live free from servile occupations, and there are to be 
common meals in both. The only difference is that in the Laws, the 
common meals are extended to women, and the warriors number 5000, 
but in the Republic only 1000. 

The discourses of Socrates are never commonplace; they always 
exhibit grace and originality and thought; but perfection in 
everything can hardly be expected. We must not overlook the fact 
that the number of 5000 citizens, just now mentioned, will require a 
territory as large as Babylon, or some other huge site, if so many 
persons are to be supported in idleness, together with their women and 
attendants, who will be a multitude many times as great. In framing an 
ideal we may assume what we wish, but should avoid impossibilities. 

It is said that the legislator ought to have his eye directed to two 
points- the people and the country. But neighboring countries also 
must not be forgotten by him, firstly because the state for which he 
legislates is to have a political and not an isolated life. For a 
state must have such a military force as will be serviceable against 
her neighbors, and not merely useful at home. Even if the life of 
action is not admitted to be the best, either for individuals or 
states, still a city should be formidable to enemies, whether invading 
or retreating. 

There is another point: Should not the amount of property be defined 
in some way which differs from this by being clearer? For Socrates 
says that a man should have so much property as will enable him to 
live temperately, which is only a way of saying 'to live well'; this 
is too general a conception. Further, a man may live temperately and 
yet miserably. A better definition would be that a man must have so 
much property as will enable him to live not only temperately but 
liberally; if the two are parted, liberally will combine with 
luxury; temperance will be associated with toil. For liberality and 
temperance are the only eligible qualities which have to do with the 
use of property. A man cannot use property with mildness or courage, 
but temperately and liberally he may; and therefore the practice of 
these virtues is inseparable from property. There is an inconsistency, 
too, in too, in equalizing the property and not regulating the 
number of the citizens; the population is to remain unlimited, and 
he thinks that it will be sufficiently equalized by a certain number 
of marriages being unfruitful, however many are born to others, 
because he finds this to be the case in existing states. But greater 
care will be required than now; for among ourselves, whatever may be 
the number of citizens, the property is always distributed among them, 
and therefore no one is in want; but, if the property were incapable 
of division as in the Laws, the supernumeraries, whether few or 
many, would get nothing. One would have thought that it was even 
more necessary to limit population than property; and that the limit 
should be fixed by calculating the chances of mortality in the 

children, and of sterility in married persons. The neglect of this 
subject, which in existing states is so common, is a never-failing 
cause of poverty among the citizens; and poverty is the parent of 
revolution and crime. Pheidon the Corinthian, who was one of the 
most ardent legislators, thought that the families and the number of 
citizens ought to remain the same, although originally all the lots 
may have been of different sizes: but in the Laws the opposite 
principle is maintained. What in our opinion is the right 
arrangement will have to be explained hereafter. 

There is another omission in the Laws: Socrates does not tell us how 
the rulers differ from their subjects; he only says that they should 
be related as the warp and the woof, which are made out of different 
wools. He allows that a man's whole property may be increased 
fivefold, but why should not his land also increase to a certain 
extent? Again, will the good management of a household be promoted 
by his arrangement of homesteads? For he assigns to each individual 
two homesteads in separate places, and it is difficult to live in 
two houses . 

The whole system of government tends to be neither democracy nor 
oligarchy, but something in a mean between them, which is usually 
called a polity, and is composed of the heavy-armed soldiers. Now, 
if he intended to frame a constitution which would suit the greatest 
number of states, he was very likely right, but not if he meant to say 
that this constitutional form came nearest to his first or ideal 
state; for many would prefer the Lacedaemonian, or, possibly, some 
other more aristocratic government. Some, indeed, say that the best 
constitution is a combination of all existing forms, and they praise 
the Lacedaemonian because it is made up of oligarchy, monarchy, and 
democracy, the king forming the monarchy, and the council of elders 
the oligarchy while the democratic element is represented by the 
Ephors; for the Ephors are selected from the people. Others, 
however, declare the Ephoralty to be a tyranny, and find the element 
of democracy in the common meals and in the habits of daily life. In 
the Laws it is maintained that the best constitution is made up of 
democracy and tyranny, which are either not constitutions at all, or 
are the worst of all. But they are nearer the truth who combine many 
forms; for the constitution is better which is made up of more 
numerous elements . The constitution proposed in the Laws has no 
element of monarchy at all; it is nothing but oligarchy and democracy, 
leaning rather to oligarchy. This is seen in the mode of appointing 
magistrates; for although the appointment of them by lot from among 
those who have been already selected combines both elements, the way 
in which the rich are compelled by law to attend the assembly and vote 
for magistrates or discharge other political duties, while the rest 
may do as they like, and the endeavor to have the greater number of 
the magistrates appointed out of the richer classes and the highest 
officers selected from those who have the greatest incomes, both these 
are oligarchical features. The oligarchical principle prevails also in 
the choice of the council, for all are compelled to choose, but the 
compulsion extends only to the choice out of the first class, and of 
an equal number out of the second class and out of the third class, 
but not in this latter case to all the voters but to those of the 
first three classes; and the selection of candidates out of the fourth 
class is only compulsory on the first and second. Then, from the 
persons so chosen, he says that there ought to be an equal number of 
each class selected. Thus a preponderance will be given to the 
better sort of people, who have the larger incomes, because many of 
the lower classes, not being compelled will not vote. These 
considerations, and others which will be adduced when the time comes 
for examining similar polities, tend to show that states like 
Plato's should not be composed of democracy and monarchy. There is 
also a danger in electing the magistrates out of a body who are 
themselves elected; for, if but a small number choose to combine, 
the elections will always go as they desire. Such is the 

constitution which is described in the Laws. 


Other constitutions have been proposed; some by private persons, 
others by philosophers and statesmen, which all come nearer to 
established or existing ones than either of Plato's. No one else has 
introduced such novelties as the community of women and children, or 
public tables for women: other legislators begin with what is 
necessary. In the opinion of some, the regulation of property is the 
chief point of all, that being the question upon which all revolutions 
turn. This danger was recognized by Phaleas of Chalcedon, who was 
the first to affirm that the citizens of a state ought to have equal 
possessions. He thought that in a new colony the equalization might be 
accomplished without difficulty, not so easily when a state was 
already established; and that then the shortest way of compassing 
the desired end would be for the rich to give and not to receive 
marriage portions, and for the poor not to give but to receive them. 

Plato in the Laws was of opinion that, to a certain extent, 
accumulation should be allowed, forbidding, as I have already 
observed, any citizen to possess more than five times the minimum 
qualification But those who make such laws should remember what they 
are apt to forget- that the legislator who fixes the amount of 
property should also fix the number of children; for, if the 
children are too many for the property, the law must be broken. And, 
besides the violation of the law, it is a bad thing that many from 
being rich should become poor; for men of ruined fortunes are sure 
to stir up revolutions. That the equalization of property exercises an 
influence on political society was clearly understood even by some 
of the old legislators. Laws were made by Solon and others prohibiting 
an individual from possessing as much land as he pleased; and there 
are other laws in states which forbid the sale of property: among 
the Locrians, for example, there is a law that a man is not to sell 
his property unless he can prove unmistakably that some misfortune has 
befallen him. Again, there have been laws which enjoin the 
preservation of the original lots. Such a law existed in the island of 
Leucas, and the abrogation of it made the constitution too democratic, 
for the rulers no longer had the prescribed qualification. Again, 
where there is equality of property, the amount may be either too 
large or too small, and the possessor may be living either in luxury 
or penury. Clearly, then, the legislator ought not only to aim at 
the equalization of properties, but at moderation in their amount. 
Further, if he prescribe this moderate amount equally to all, he 
will be no nearer the mark; for it is not the possessions but the 
desires of mankind which require to be equalized, and this is 
impossible, unless a sufficient education is provided by the laws. But 
Phaleas will probably reply that this is precisely what he means; 
and that, in his opinion, there ought to be in states, not only 
equal property, but equal education. Still he should tell precisely 
what he means; and that, in his opinion, there ought to be in be in 
having one and the same for all, if it is of a sort that predisposes 
men to avarice, or ambition, or both. Moreover, civil troubles 
arise, not only out of the inequality of property, but out of the 
inequality of honor, though in opposite ways. For the common people 
quarrel about the inequality of property, the higher class about the 
equality of honor; as the poet says, 

The bad and good alike in honor share. 

There are crimes of which the motive is want; and for these 
Phaleas expects to find a cure in the equalization of property, 
which will take away from a man the temptation to be a highwayman, 
because he is hungry or cold. But want is not the sole incentive to 
crime; men also wish to enjoy themselves and not to be in a state of 
desire- they wish to cure some desire, going beyond the necessities of 

life, which preys upon them; nay, this is not the only reason- they 
may desire superfluities in order to enjoy pleasures unaccompanied 
with pain, and therefore they commit crimes. 

Now what is the cure of these three disorders? Of the first, 
moderate possessions and occupation; of the second, habits of 
temperance; as to the third, if any desire pleasures which depend on 
themselves, they will find the satisfaction of their desires nowhere 
but in philosophy; for all other pleasures we are dependent on others. 
The fact is that the greatest crimes are caused by excess and not by 
necessity. Men do not become tyrants in order that they may not suffer 
cold; and hence great is the honor bestowed, not on him who kills a 
thief, but on him who kills a tyrant. Thus we see that the 
institutions of Phaleas avail only against petty crimes. 

There is another objection to them. They are chiefly designed to 
promote the internal welfare of the state. But the legislator should 
consider also its relation to neighboring nations, and to all who 
are outside of it. The government must be organized with a view to 
military strength; and of this he has said not a word. And so with 
respect to property: there should not only be enough to supply the 
internal wants of the state, but also to meet dangers coming from 
without. The property of the state should not be so large that more 
powerful neighbors may be tempted by it, while the owners are unable 
to repel the invaders; nor yet so small that the state is unable to 
maintain a war even against states of equal power, and of the same 
character. Phaleas has not laid down any rule; but we should bear in 
mind that abundance of wealth is an advantage. The best limit will 
probably be, that a more powerful neighbor must have no inducement 
to go to war with you by reason of the excess of your wealth, but only 
such as he would have had if you had possessed less. There is a 
story that Eubulus, when Autophradates was going to besiege 
Atarneus, told him to consider how long the operation would take, 
and then reckon up the cost which would be incurred in the time. 
'For, ' said he, 'I am willing for a smaller sum than that to leave 
Atarneus at once. ' These words of Eubulus made an impression on 
Autophradates, and he desisted from the siege. 

The equalization of property is one of the things that tend to 
prevent the citizens from quarrelling. Not that the gain in this 
direction is very great. For the nobles will be dissatisfied because 
they think themselves worthy of more than an equal share of honors; 
and this is often found to be a cause of sedition and revolution. 
And the avarice of mankind is insatiable; at one time two obols was 
pay enough; but now, when this sum has become customary, men always 
want more and more without end; for it is of the nature of desire 
not to be satisfied, and most men live only for the gratification of 
it. The beginning of reform is not so much to equalize property as 
to train the nobler sort of natures not to desire more, and to prevent 
the lower from getting more; that is to say, they must be kept down, 
but not ill-treated. Besides, the equalization proposed by Phaleas 
is imperfect; for he only equalizes land, whereas a man may be rich 
also in slaves, and cattle, and money, and in the abundance of what 
are called his movables. Now either all these things must be 
equalized, or some limit must be imposed on them, or they must an be 
let alone. It would appear that Phaleas is legislating for a small 
city only, if, as he supposes, all the artisans are to be public 
slaves and not to form a supplementary part of the body of citizens. 
But if there is a law that artisans are to be public slaves, it should 
only apply to those engaged on public works, as at Epidamnus, or at 
Athens on the plan which Diophantus once introduced. 

From these observations any one may judge how far Phaleas was 
wrong or right in his ideas. 


Hippodamus, the son of Euryphon, a native of Miletus, the same who 
invented the art of planning cities, and who also laid out the 

Piraeus- a strange man, whose fondness for distinction led him into 
a general eccentricity of life, which made some think him affected 
(for he would wear flowing hair and expensive ornaments; but these 
were worn on a cheap but warm garment both in winter and summer) ; 
he, besides aspiring to be an adept in the knowledge of nature, was 
the first person not a statesman who made inquiries about the best 
form of government. 

The city of Hippodamus was composed of 10,000 citizens divided 
into three parts- one of artisans, one of husbandmen, and a third of 
armed defenders of the state. He also divided the land into three 
parts, one sacred, one public, the third private: the first was set 
apart to maintain the customary worship of the Gods, the second was to 
support the warriors, the third was the property of the husbandmen. He 
also divided laws into three classes, and no more, for he maintained 
that there are three subjects of lawsuits- insult, injury, and 
homicide. He likewise instituted a single final court of appeal, to 
which all causes seeming to have been improperly decided might be 
referred; this court he formed of elders chosen for the purpose. He 
was further of opinion that the decisions of the courts ought not to 
be given by the use of a voting pebble, but that every one should have 
a tablet on which he might not only write a simple condemnation, or 
leave the tablet blank for a simple acquittal; but, if he partly 
acquitted and partly condemned, he was to distinguish accordingly. 
To the existing law he objected that it obliged the judges to be 
guilty of perjury, whichever way they voted. He also enacted that 
those who discovered anything for the good of the state should be 
honored; and he provided that the children of citizens who died in 
battle should be maintained at the public expense, as if such an 
enactment had never been heard of before, yet it actually exists at 
Athens and in other places. As to the magistrates, he would have 
them all elected by the people, that is, by the three classes 
already mentioned, and those who were elected were to watch over the 
interests of the public, of strangers, and of orphans. These are the 
most striking points in the constitution of Hippodamus. There is not 
much else. 

The first of these proposals to which objection may be taken is 
the threefold division of the citizens. The artisans, and the 
husbandmen, and the warriors, all have a share in the government. 
But the husbandmen have no arms, and the artisans neither arms nor 
land, and therefore they become all but slaves of the warrior class. 
That they should share in all the offices is an impossibility; for 
generals and guardians of the citizens, and nearly all the principal 
magistrates, must be taken from the class of those who carry arms. 
Yet, if the two other classes have no share in the government, how can 
they be loyal citizens? It may be said that those who have arms must 
necessarily be masters of both the other classes, but this is not so 
easily accomplished unless they are numerous; and if they are, why 
should the other classes share in the government at all, or have power 
to appoint magistrates? Further, what use are farmers to the city? 
Artisans there must be, for these are wanted in every city, and they 
can live by their craft, as elsewhere; and the husbandmen too, if they 
really provided the warriors with food, might fairly have a share in 
the government. But in the republic of Hippodamus they are supposed to 
have land of their own, which they cultivate for their private 
benefit. Again, as to this common land out of which the soldiers are 
maintained, if they are themselves to be the cultivators of it, the 
warrior class will be identical with the husbandmen, although the 
legislator intended to make a distinction between them. If, again, 
there are to be other cultivators distinct both from the husbandmen, 
who have land of their own, and from the warriors, they will make a 
fourth class, which has no place in the state and no share in 
anything. Or, if the same persons are to cultivate their own lands, 
and those of the public as well, they will have difficulty in 
supplying the quantity of produce which will maintain two 

households: and why, in this case, should there be any division, for 
they might find food themselves and give to the warriors from the same 
land and the same lots? There is surely a great confusion in all this. 

Neither is the law to commended which says that the judges, when a 
simple issue is laid before them, should distinguish in their 
judgement; for the judge is thus converted into an arbitrator. Now, in 
an arbitration, although the arbitrators are many, they confer with 
one another about the decision, and therefore they can distinguish; 
but in courts of law this is impossible, and, indeed, most legislators 
take pains to prevent the judges from holding any communication with 
one another. Again, will there not be confusion if the judge thinks 
that damages should be given, but not so much as the suitor demands? 
He asks, say, for twenty minae, and the judge allows him ten minae (or 
in general the suitor asks for more and the judge allows less), 
while another judge allows five, another four minae. In this way 
they will go on splitting up the damages, and some will grant the 
whole and others nothing: how is the final reckoning to be taken? 
Again, no one contends that he who votes for a simple acquittal or 
condemnation perjures himself, if the indictment has been laid in an 
unqualified form; and this is just, for the judge who acquits does not 
decide that the defendant owes nothing, but that he does not owe the 
twenty minae. He only is guilty of perjury who thinks that the 
defendant ought not to pay twenty minae, and yet condemns him. 

To honor those who discover anything which is useful to the state is 
a proposal which has a specious sound, but cannot safely be enacted by 
law, for it may encourage informers, and perhaps even lead to 
political commotions. This question involves another. It has been 
doubted whether it is or is not expedient to make any changes in the 
laws of a country, even if another law be better. Now, if an changes 
are inexpedient, we can hardly assent to the proposal of Hippodamus; 
for, under pretense of doing a public service, a man may introduce 
measures which are really destructive to the laws or to the 
constitution. But, since we have touched upon this subject, perhaps we 
had better go a little into detail, for, as I was saying, there is a 
difference of opinion, and it may sometimes seem desirable to make 
changes. Such changes in the other arts and sciences have certainly 
been beneficial; medicine, for example, and gymnastic, and every other 
art and craft have departed from traditional usage. And, if politics 
be an art, change must be necessary in this as in any other art. 
That improvement has occurred is shown by the fact that old customs 
are exceedingly simple and barbarous. For the ancient Hellenes went 
about armed and bought their brides of each other. The remains of 
ancient laws which have come down to us are quite absurd; for example, 
at Cumae there is a law about murder, to the effect that if the 
accuser produce a certain number of witnesses from among his own 
kinsmen, the accused shall be held guilty. Again, men in general 
desire the good, and not merely what their fathers had. But the 
primeval inhabitants, whether they were born of the earth or were 
the survivors of some destruction, may be supposed to have been no 
better than ordinary or even foolish people among ourselves (such is 
certainly the tradition concerning the earth-born men) ; and it would 
be ridiculous to rest contented with their notions. Even when laws 
have been written down, they ought not always to remain unaltered. 
As in other sciences, so in politics, it is impossible that all things 
should be precisely set down in writing; for enactments must be 
universal, but actions are concerned with particulars. Hence we 
infer that sometimes and in certain cases laws may be changed; but 
when we look at the matter from another point of view, great caution 
would seem to be required. For the habit of lightly changing the 
laws is an evil, and, when the advantage is small, some errors both of 
lawgivers and rulers had better be left; the citizen will not gain 
so much by making the change as he will lose by the habit of 
disobedience. The analogy of the arts is false; a change in a law is a 
very different thing from a change in an art. For the law has no power 

to command obedience except that of habit, which can only be given 
by time, so that a readiness to change from old to new laws 
enfeebles the power of the law. Even if we admit that the laws are 
to be changed, are they all to be changed, and in every state? And are 
they to be changed by anybody who likes, or only by certain persons? 
These are very important questions; and therefore we had better 
reserve the discussion of them to a more suitable occasion. 


In the governments of Lacedaemon and Crete, and indeed in all 
governments, two points have to be considered: first, whether any 
particular law is good or bad, when compared with the perfect state; 
secondly, whether it is or is not consistent with the idea and 
character which the lawgiver has set before his citizens. That in a 
well-ordered state the citizens should have leisure and not have to 
provide for their daily wants is generally acknowledged, but there 
is a difficulty in seeing how this leisure is to be attained. The 
Thessalian Penestae have often risen against their masters, and the 
Helots in like manner against the Lacedaemonians, for whose 
misfortunes they are always lying in wait. Nothing, however, of this 
kind has as yet happened to the Cretans; the reason probably is that 
the neighboring cities, even when at war with one another, never 
form an alliance with rebellious serfs, rebellions not being for their 
interest, since they themselves have a dependent population. Whereas 
all the neighbors of the Lacedaemonians, whether Argives, 
Messenians, or Arcadians, were their enemies. In Thessaly, again, 
the original revolt of the slaves occurred because the Thessalians 
were still at war with the neighboring Achaeans, Perrhaebians, and 
Magnesians. Besides, if there were no other difficulty, the 
treatment or management of slaves is a troublesome affair; for, if not 
kept in hand, they are insolent, and think that they are as good as 
their masters, and, if harshly treated, they hate and conspire against 
them. Now it is clear that when these are the results the citizens 
of a state have not found out the secret of managing their subject 
population . 

Again, the license of the Lacedaemonian women defeats the 
intention of the Spartan constitution, and is adverse to the happiness 
of the state. For, a husband and wife being each a part of every 
family, the state may be considered as about equally divided into 
men and women; and, therefore, in those states in which the 
condition of the women is bad, half the city may be regarded as having 
no laws. And this is what has actually happened at Sparta; the 
legislator wanted to make the whole state hardy and temperate, and 
he has carried out his intention in the case of the men, but he has 
neglected the women, who live in every sort of intemperance and 
luxury. The consequence is that in such a state wealth is too highly 
valued, especially if the citizen fall under the dominion of their 
wives, after the manner of most warlike races, except the Celts and 
a few others who openly approve of male loves. The old mythologer 
would seem to have been right in uniting Ares and Aphrodite, for all 
warlike races are prone to the love either of men or of women. This 
was exemplified among the Spartans in the days of their greatness; 
many things were managed by their women. But what difference does it 
make whether women rule, or the rulers are ruled by women? The 
result is the same. Even in regard to courage, which is of no use in 
daily life, and is needed only in war, the influence of the 
Lacedaemonian women has been most mischievous. The evil showed 
itself in the Theban invasion, when, unlike the women other cities, 
they were utterly useless and caused more confusion than the enemy. 
This license of the Lacedaemonian women existed from the earliest 
times, and was only what might be expected. For, during the wars of 
the Lacedaemonians, first against the Argives, and afterwards 
against the Arcadians and Messenians, the men were long away from 
home, and, on the return of peace, they gave themselves into the 

legislator's hand, already prepared by the discipline of a soldier's 
life (in which there are many elements of virtue), to receive his 
enactments. But, when Lycurgus, as tradition says, wanted to bring the 
women under his laws, they resisted, and he gave up the attempt. These 
then are the causes of what then happened, and this defect in the 
constitution is clearly to be attributed to them. We are not, however, 
considering what is or is not to be excused, but what is right or 
wrong, and the disorder of the women, as I have already said, not only 
gives an air of indecorum to the constitution considered in itself, 
but tends in a measure to foster avarice. 

The mention of avarice naturally suggests a criticism on the 
inequality of property. While some of the Spartan citizen have quite 
small properties, others have very large ones; hence the land has 
passed into the hands of a few. And this is due also to faulty laws; 
for, although the legislator rightly holds up to shame the sale or 
purchase of an inheritance, he allows anybody who likes to give or 
bequeath it. Yet both practices lead to the same result. And nearly 
two-fifths of the whole country are held by women; this is owing to 
the number of heiresses and to the large dowries which are 
customary. It would surely have been better to have given no dowries 
at all, or, if any, but small or moderate ones. As the law now stands, 
a man may bestow his heiress on any one whom he pleases, and, if he 
die intestate, the privilege of giving her away descends to his 
heir. Hence, although the country is able to maintain 1500 cavalry and 
30,000 hoplites, the whole number of Spartan citizens fell below 1000. 
The result proves the faulty nature of their laws respecting property; 
for the city sank under a single defeat; the want of men was their 
ruin. There is a tradition that, in the days of their ancient kings, 
they were in the habit of giving the rights of citizenship to 
strangers, and therefore, in spite of their long wars, no lack of 
population was experienced by them; indeed, at one time Sparta is said 
to have numbered not less than 10,000 citizens Whether this 
statement is true or not, it would certainly have been better to 
have maintained their numbers by the equalization of property. 
Again, the law which relates to the procreation of children is adverse 
to the correction of this inequality. For the legislator, wanting to 
have as many Spartans as he could, encouraged the citizens to have 
large families; and there is a law at Sparta that the father of 
three sons shall be exempt from military service, and he who has 
four from all the burdens of the state. Yet it is obvious that, if 
there were many children, the land being distributed as it is, many of 
them must necessarily fall into poverty. 

The Lacedaemonian constitution is defective in another point; I mean 
the Ephoralty. This magistracy has authority in the highest matters, 
but the Ephors are chosen from the whole people, and so the office 
is apt to fall into the hands of very poor men, who, being badly 
off, are open to bribes. There have been many examples at Sparta of 
this evil in former times; and quite recently, in the matter of the 
Andrians, certain of the Ephors who were bribed did their best to ruin 
the state. And so great and tyrannical is their power, that even the 
kings have been compelled to court them, so that, in this way as 
well together with the royal office, the whole constitution has 
deteriorated, and from being an aristocracy has turned into a 
democracy. The Ephoralty certainly does keep the state together; for 
the people are contented when they have a share in the highest office, 
and the result, whether due to the legislator or to chance, has been 
advantageous. For if a constitution is to be permanent, all the 
parts of the state must wish that it should exist and the same 
arrangements be maintained. This is the case at Sparta, where the 
kings desire its permanence because they have due honor in their own 
persons; the nobles because they are represented in the council of 
elders (for the office of elder is a reward of virtue); and the 
people, because all are eligible to the Ephoralty. The election of 
Ephors out of the whole people is perfectly right, but ought not to be 

carried on in the present fashion, which is too childish. Again, 
they have the decision of great causes, although they are quite 
ordinary men, and therefore they should not determine them merely on 
their own judgment, but according to written rules, and to the laws. 
Their way of life, too, is not in accordance with the spirit of the 
constitution- they have a deal too much license; whereas, in the 
case of the other citizens, the excess of strictness is so intolerable 
that they run away from the law into the secret indulgence of 
sensual pleasures . 

Again, the council of elders is not free from defects. It may be 
said that the elders are good men and well trained in manly virtue; 
and that, therefore, there is an advantage to the state in having 
them. But that judges of important causes should hold office for 
life is a disputable thing, for the mind grows old as well as the 
body. And when men have been educated in such a manner that even the 
legislator himself cannot trust them, there is real danger. Many of 
the elders are well known to have taken bribes and to have been guilty 
of partiality in public affairs. And therefore they ought not to be 
irresponsible; yet at Sparta they are so. But (it may be replied), 
'All magistracies are accountable to the Ephors . ' Yes, but this 
prerogative is too great for them, and we maintain that the control 
should be exercised in some other manner. Further, the mode in which 
the Spartans elect their elders is childish; and it is improper that 
the person to be elected should canvass for the office; the 
worthiest should be appointed, whether he chooses or not. And here the 
legislator clearly indicates the same intention which appears in other 
parts of his constitution; he would have his citizens ambitious, and 
he has reckoned upon this quality in the election of the elders; for 
no one would ask to be elected if he were not. Yet ambition and 
avarice, almost more than any other passions, are the motives of 
crime . 

Whether kings are or are not an advantage to states, I will consider 
at another time; they should at any rate be chosen, not as they are 
now, but with regard to their personal life and conduct. The 
legislator himself obviously did not suppose that he could make them 
really good men; at least he shows a great distrust of their virtue. 
For this reason the Spartans used to join enemies with them in the 
same embassy, and the quarrels between the kings were held to be 
conservative of the state. 

Neither did the first introducer of the common meals, called 
'phiditia, ' regulate them well. The entertainment ought to have been 
provided at the public cost, as in Crete; but among the Lacedaemonians 
every one is expected to contribute, and some of them are too poor 
to afford the expense; thus the intention of the legislator is 
frustrated. The common meals were meant to be a popular institution, 
but the existing manner of regulating them is the reverse of 
popular. For the very poor can scarcely take part in them; and, 
according to ancient custom, those who cannot contribute are not 
allowed to retain their rights of citizenship. 

The law about the Spartan admirals has often been censured, and with 
justice; it is a source of dissension, for the kings are perpetual 
generals, and this office of admiral is but the setting up of 
another king. 

The charge which Plato brings, in the Laws, against the intention of 
the legislator, is likewise justified; the whole constitution has 
regard to one part of virtue only- the virtue of the soldier, which 
gives victory in war. So long as they were at war, therefore, their 
power was preserved, but when they had attained empire they fell for 
of the arts of peace they knew nothing, and had never engaged in any 
employment higher than war. There is another error, equally great, 
into which they have fallen. Although they truly think that the 
goods for which men contend are to be acquired by virtue rather than 
by vice, they err in supposing that these goods are to be preferred to 
the virtue which gains them. 

Once more: the revenues of the state are ill-managed; there is no 
money in the treasury, although they are obliged to carry on great 
wars, and they are unwilling to pay taxes. The greater part of the 
land being in the hands of the Spartans, they do not look closely into 
one another's contributions. The result which the legislator has 
produced is the reverse of beneficial; for he has made his city 
poor, and his citizens greedy. 

Enough respecting the Spartan constitution, of which these are the 
principal defects. 


The Cretan constitution nearly resembles the Spartan, and in some 
few points is quite as good; but for the most part less perfect in 
form. The older constitutions are generally less elaborate than the 
later, and the Lacedaemonian is said to be, and probably is, in a very 
great measure, a copy of the Cretan. According to tradition, Lycurgus, 
when he ceased to be the guardian of King Charillus, went abroad and 
spent most of his time in Crete. For the two countries are nearly 
connected; the Lyctians are a colony of the Lacedaemonians, and the 
colonists, when they came to Crete, adopted the constitution which 
they found existing among the inhabitants. Even to this day the 
Perioeci, or subject population of Crete, are governed by the original 
laws which Minos is supposed to have enacted. The island seems to be 
intended by nature for dominion in Hellas, and to be well situated; it 
extends right across the sea, around which nearly all the Hellenes are 
settled; and while one end is not far from the Peloponnese, the 
other almost reaches to the region of Asia about Triopium and 
Rhodes. Hence Minos acquired the empire of the sea, subduing some of 
the islands and colonizing others; at last he invaded Sicily, where he 
died near Camicus. 

The Cretan institutions resemble the Lacedaemonian. The Helots are 
the husbandmen of the one, the Perioeci of the other, and both Cretans 
and Lacedaemonians have common meals, which were anciently called by 
the Lacedaemonians not 'phiditia' but 'andria'; and the Cretans have 
the same word, the use of which proves that the common meals 
originally came from Crete. Further, the two constitutions are 
similar; for the office of the Ephors is the same as that of the 
Cretan Cosmi, the only difference being that whereas the Ephors are 
five, the Cosmi are ten in number. The elders, too, answer to the 
elders in Crete, who are termed by the Cretans the council. And the 
kingly office once existed in Crete, but was abolished, and the 
Cosmi have now the duty of leading them in war. All classes share in 
the ecclesia, but it can only ratify the decrees of the elders and the 
Cosmi . 

The common meals of Crete are certainly better managed than the 
Lacedaemonian; for in Lacedaemon every one pays so much per head, 
or, if he fails, the law, as I have already explained, forbids him 
to exercise the rights of citizenship. But in Crete they are of a more 
popular character. There, of all the fruits of the earth and cattle 
raised on the public lands, and of the tribute which is paid by the 
Perioeci, one portion is assigned to the Gods and to the service of 
the state, and another to the common meals, so that men, women, and 
children are all supported out of a common stock. The legislator has 
many ingenious ways of securing moderation in eating, which he 
conceives to be a gain; he likewise encourages the separation of men 
from women, lest they should have too many children, and the 
companionship of men with one another- whether this is a good or bad 
thing I shall have an opportunity of considering at another time. 
But that the Cretan common meals are better ordered than the 
Lacedaemonian there can be no doubt. 

On the other hand, the Cosmi are even a worse institution than the 
Ephors, of which they have all the evils without the good. Like the 
Ephors, they are any chance persons, but in Crete this is not 
counterbalanced by a corresponding political advantage. At Sparta 

every one is eligible, and the body of the people, having a share in 
the highest office, want the constitution to be permanent. But in 
Crete the Cosmi are elected out of certain families, and not out of 
the whole people, and the elders out of those who have been Cosmi. 

The same criticism may be made about the Cretan, which has been 
already made about the Lacedaemonian elders. Their irresponsibility 
and life tenure is too great a privilege, and their arbitrary power of 
acting upon their own judgment, and dispensing with written law, is 
dangerous. It is no proof of the goodness of the institution that 
the people are not discontented at being excluded from it. For there 
is no profit to be made out of the office as out of the Ephoralty, 
since, unlike the Ephors, the Cosmi, being in an island, are removed 
from temptation. 

The remedy by which they correct the evil of this institution is 
an extraordinary one, suited rather to a close oligarchy than to a 
constitutional state. For the Cosmi are often expelled by a conspiracy 
of their own colleagues, or of private individuals; and they are 
allowed also to resign before their term of office has expired. Surely 
all matters of this kind are better regulated by law than by the 
will of man, which is a very unsafe rule. Worst of all is the 
suspension of the office of Cosmi, a device to which the nobles 
often have recourse when they will not submit to justice. This shows 
that the Cretan government, although possessing some of the 
characteristics of a constitutional state, is really a close 
oligarchy . 

The nobles have a habit, too, of setting up a chief; they get 
together a party among the common people and their own friends and 
then quarrel and fight with one another. What is this but the 
temporary destruction of the state and dissolution of society? A 
city is in a dangerous condition when those who are willing are also 
able to attack her. But, as I have already said, the island of Crete 
is saved by her situation; distance has the same effect as the 
Lacedaemonian prohibition of strangers; and the Cretans have no 
foreign dominions. This is the reason why the Perioeci are contented 
in Crete, whereas the Helots are perpetually revolting. But when 
lately foreign invaders found their way into the island, the 
weakness of the Cretan constitution was revealed. Enough of the 
government of Crete. 


The Carthaginians are also considered to have an excellent form of 
government, which differs from that of any other state in several 
respects, though it is in some very like the Lacedaemonian. Indeed, 
all three states- the Lacedaemonian, the Cretan, and the Carthaginian- 
nearly resemble one another, and are very different from any others. 
Many of the Carthaginian institutions are excellent The superiority of 
their constitution is proved by the fact that the common people remain 
loyal to the constitution the Carthaginians have never had any 
rebellion worth speaking of, and have never been under the rule of a 
tyrant . 

Among the points in which the Carthaginian constitution resembles 
the Lacedaemonian are the following: The common tables of the clubs 
answer to the Spartan phiditia, and their magistracy of the 104 to the 
Ephors; but, whereas the Ephors are any chance persons, the 
magistrates of the Carthaginians are elected according to merit- 
this is an improvement. They have also their kings and their 
gerusia, or council of elders, who correspond to the kings and 
elders of Sparta. Their kings, unlike the Spartan, are not always of 
the same family, nor that an ordinary one, but if there is some 
distinguished family they are selected out of it and not appointed 
by senority- this is far better. Such officers have great power, and 
therefore, if they are persons of little worth, do a great deal of 
harm, and they have already done harm at Lacedaemon. 

Most of the defects or deviations from the perfect state, for 

which the Carthaginian constitution would be censured, apply equally 
to all the forms of government which we have mentioned. But of the 
deflections from aristocracy and constitutional government, some 
incline more to democracy and some to oligarchy. The kings and elders, 
if unanimous, may determine whether they will or will not bring a 
matter before the people, but when they are not unanimous, the 
people decide on such matters as well. And whatever the kings and 
elders bring before the people is not only heard but also determined 
by them, and any one who likes may oppose it; now this is not 
permitted in Sparta and Crete. That the magistrates of five who have 
under them many important matters should be co-opted, that they should 
choose the supreme council of 100, and should hold office longer 
than other magistrates (for they are virtually rulers both before 
and after they hold office)- these are oligarchical features; their 
being without salary and not elected by lot, and any similar points, 
such as the practice of having all suits tried by the magistrates, and 
not some by one class of judges or jurors and some by another, as at 
Lacedaemon, are characteristic of aristocracy. The Carthaginian 
constitution deviates from aristocracy and inclines to oligarchy, 
chiefly on a point where popular opinion is on their side. For men 
in general think that magistrates should be chosen not only for 
their merit, but for their wealth: a man, they say, who is poor cannot 
rule well- he has not the leisure. If, then, election of magistrates 
for their wealth be characteristic of oligarchy, and election for 
merit of aristocracy, there will be a third form under which the 
constitution of Carthage is comprehended; for the Carthaginians choose 
their magistrates, and particularly the highest of them- their kings 
and generals- with an eye both to merit and to wealth. 

But we must acknowledge that, in thus deviating from aristocracy, 
the legislator has committed an error. Nothing is more absolutely 
necessary than to provide that the highest class, not only when in 
office, but when out of office, should have leisure and not disgrace 
themselves in any way; and to this his attention should be first 
directed. Even if you must have regard to wealth, in order to secure 
leisure, yet it is surely a bad thing that the greatest offices, 
such as those of kings and generals, should be bought. The law which 
allows this abuse makes wealth of more account than virtue, and the 
whole state becomes avaricious. For, whenever the chiefs of the 
state deem anything honorable, the other citizens are sure to follow 
their example; and, where virtue has not the first place, their 
aristocracy cannot be firmly established. Those who have been at the 
expense of purchasing their places will be in the habit of repaying 
themselves; and it is absurd to suppose that a poor and honest man 
will be wanting to make gains, and that a lower stamp of man who has 
incurred a great expense will not. Wherefore they should rule who 
are able to rule best. And even if the legislator does not care to 
protect the good from poverty, he should at any rate secure leisure 
for them when in office. 

It would seem also to be a bad principle that the same person should 
hold many offices, which is a favorite practice among the 
Carthaginians, for one business is better done by one man. The 
legislator should see to this and should not appoint the same person 
to be a flute-player and a shoemaker. Hence, where the state is large, 
it is more in accordance both with constitutional and with democratic 
principles that the offices of state should be distributed among many 
persons. For, as I said, this arrangement is fairer to all, and any 
action familiarized by repetition is better and sooner performed. 
We have a proof in military and naval matters; the duties of command 
and of obedience in both these services extend to all. 

The government of the Carthaginians is oligarchical, but they 
successfully escape the evils of oligarchy by enriching one portion of 
the people after another by sending them to their colonies. This is 
their panacea and the means by which they give stability to the state. 
Accident favors them, but the legislator should be able to provide 

against revolution without trusting to accidents. As things are, if 
any misfortune occurred, and the bulk of the subjects revolted, 
there would be no way of restoring peace by legal methods. 

Such is the character of the Lacedaemonian, Cretan, and Carthaginian 
constitutions, which are justly celebrated. 


Of those who have treated of governments, some have never taken 
any part at all in public affairs, but have passed their lives in a 
private station; about most of them, what was worth telling has been 
already told. Others have been lawgivers, either in their own or in 
foreign cities, whose affairs they have administered; and of these 
some have only made laws, others have framed constitutions; for 
example, Lycurgus and Solon did both. Of the Lacedaemonian 
constitution I have already spoken. As to Solon, he is thought by some 
to have been a good legislator, who put an end to the exclusiveness of 
the oligarchy, emancipated the people, established the ancient 
Athenian democracy, and harmonized the different elements of the 
state. According to their view, the council of Areopagus was an 
oligarchical element, the elected magistracy, aristocratical, and 
the courts of law, democratical . The truth seems to be that the 
council and the elected magistracy existed before the time of Solon, 
and were retained by him, but that he formed the courts of law out 
of an the citizens, thus creating the democracy, which is the very 
reason why he is sometimes blamed. For in giving the supreme power 
to the law courts, which are elected by lot, he is thought to have 
destroyed the non-democratic element. When the law courts grew 
powerful, to please the people who were now playing the tyrant the old 
constitution was changed into the existing democracy. Ephialtes and 
Pericles curtailed the power of the Areopagus; Pericles also 
instituted the payment of the juries, and thus every demagogue in turn 
increased the power of the democracy until it became what we now 
see. All this is true; it seems, however, to be the result of 
circumstances, and not to have been intended by Solon. For the people, 
having been instrumental in gaining the empire of the sea in the 
Persian War, began to get a notion of itself, and followed worthless 
demagogues, whom the better class opposed. Solon, himself, appears 
to have given the Athenians only that power of electing to offices and 
calling to account the magistrates which was absolutely necessary; for 
without it they would have been in a state of slavery and enmity to 
the government. All the magistrates he appointed from the notables and 
the men of wealth, that is to say, from the pentacosio-medimni, or 
from the class called zeugitae, or from a third class of so-called 
knights or cavalry. The fourth class were laborers who had no share in 
any magistracy. 

Mere legislators were Zaleucus, who gave laws to the Epizephyrian 
Locrians, and Charondas, who legislated for his own city of Catana, 
and for the other Chalcidian cities in Italy and Sicily. Some people 
attempt to make out that Onomacritus was the first person who had 
any special skill in legislation, and that he, although a Locrian by 
birth, was trained in Crete, where he lived in the exercise of his 
prophetic art; that Thales was his companion, and that Lycurgus and 
Zaleucus were disciples of Thales, as Charondas was of Zaleucus. But 
their account is quite inconsistent with chronology. 

There was also Philolaus, the Corinthian, who gave laws to the 
Thebans . This Philolaus was one of the family of the Bacchiadae, and a 
lover of Diodes, the Olympic victor, who left Corinth in horror of 
the incestuous passion which his mother Halcyone had conceived for 
him, and retired to Thebes, where the two friends together ended their 
days. The inhabitants still point out their tombs, which are in full 
view of one another, but one is visible from the Corinthian territory, 
the other not. Tradition says the two friends arranged them thus, 
Diodes out of horror at his misfortunes, so that the land of 
Corinth might not be visible from his tomb; Philolaus that it might. 

This is the reason why they settled at Thebes, and so Philolaus 
legislated for the Thebans, and, besides some other enactments, gave 
them laws about the procreation of children, which they call the 'Laws 
of Adoption.' These laws were peculiar to him, and were intended to 
preserve the number of the lots. 

In the legislation of Charondas there is nothing remarkable, 
except the suits against false witnesses. He is the first who 
instituted denunciation for perjury. His laws are more exact and 
more precisely expressed than even those of our modern legislators. 

(Characteristic of Phaleas is the equalization of property; of 
Plato, the community of women, children, and property, the common 
meals of women, and the law about drinking, that the sober shall be 
masters of the feast; also the training of soldiers to acquire by 
practice equal skill with both hands, so that one should be as 
useful as the other.) 

Draco has left laws, but he adapted them to a constitution which 
already existed, and there is no peculiarity in them which is worth 
mentioning, except the greatness and severity of the punishments. 

Pittacus, too, was only a lawgiver, and not the author of a 
constitution; he has a law which is peculiar to him, that, if a 
drunken man do something wrong, he shall be more heavily punished than 
if he were sober; he looked not to the excuse which might be offered 
for the drunkard, but only to expediency, for drunken more often 
than sober people commit acts of violence. 

Androdamas of Rhegium gave laws to the Chalcidians of Thrace. Some 
of them relate to homicide, and to heiresses; but there is nothing 
remarkable in them. 

And here let us conclude our inquiry into the various 
constitutions which either actually exist, or have been devised by 
theorists . 


HE who would inquire into the essence and attributes of various 
kinds of governments must first of all determine 'What is a state?' At 
present this is a disputed question. Some say that the state has 
done a certain act; others, no, not the state, but the oligarchy or 
the tyrant. And the legislator or statesman is concerned entirely with 
the state; a constitution or government being an arrangement of the 
inhabitants of a state. But a state is composite, like any other whole 
made up of many parts; these are the citizens, who compose it. It is 
evident, therefore, that we must begin by asking, Who is the 
citizen, and what is the meaning of the term? For here again there may 
be a difference of opinion. He who is a citizen in a democracy will 
often not be a citizen in an oligarchy. Leaving out of consideration 
those who have been made citizens, or who have obtained the name of 
citizen any other accidental manner, we may say, first, that a citizen 
is not a citizen because he lives in a certain place, for resident 
aliens and slaves share in the place; nor is he a citizen who has no 
legal right except that of suing and being sued; for this right may be 
enjoyed under the provisions of a treaty. Nay, resident aliens in many 
places do not possess even such rights completely, for they are 
obliged to have a patron, so that they do but imperfectly 
participate in citizenship, and we call them citizens only in a 
qualified sense, as we might apply the term to children who are too 
young to be on the register, or to old men who have been relieved from 
state duties. Of these we do not say quite simply that they are 
citizens, but add in the one case that they are not of age, and in the 
other, that they are past the age, or something of that sort; the 
precise expression is immaterial, for our meaning is clear. Similar 
difficulties to those which I have mentioned may be raised and 
answered about deprived citizens and about exiles. But the citizen 
whom we are seeking to define is a citizen in the strictest sense, 
against whom no such exception can be taken, and his special 

characteristic is that he shares in the administration of justice, and 
in offices. Now of offices some are discontinuous, and the same 
persons are not allowed to hold them twice, or can only hold them 
after a fixed interval; others have no limit of time- for example, the 
office of a dicast or ecclesiast. It may, indeed, be argued that these 
are not magistrates at all, and that their functions give them no 
share in the government. But surely it is ridiculous to say that those 
who have the power do not govern. Let us not dwell further upon 
this, which is a purely verbal question; what we want is a common term 
including both dicast and ecclesiast. Let us, for the sake of 
distinction, call it 'indefinite office, ' and we will assume that 
those who share in such office are citizens. This is the most 
comprehensive definition of a citizen, and best suits all those who 
are generally so called. 

But we must not forget that things of which the underlying 
principles differ in kind, one of them being first, another second, 
another third, have, when regarded in this relation, nothing, or 
hardly anything, worth mentioning in common. Now we see that 
governments differ in kind, and that some of them are prior and that 
others are posterior; those which are faulty or perverted are 
necessarily posterior to those which are perfect. (What we mean by 
perversion will be hereafter explained.) The citizen then of necessity 
differs under each form of government; and our definition is best 
adapted to the citizen of a democracy; but not necessarily to other 
states . For in some states the people are not acknowledged, nor have 
they any regular assembly, but only extraordinary ones; and suits 
are distributed by sections among the magistrates. At Lacedaemon, 
for instance, the Ephors determine suits about contracts, which they 
distribute among themselves, while the elders are judges of 
homicide, and other causes are decided by other magistrates. A similar 
principle prevails at Carthage; there certain magistrates decide all 
causes. We may, indeed, modify our definition of the citizen so as 
to include these states. In them it is the holder of a definite, not 
of an indefinite office, who legislates and judges, and to some or all 
such holders of definite offices is reserved the right of deliberating 
or judging about some things or about all things. The conception of 
the citizen now begins to clear up. 

He who has the power to take part in the deliberative or judicial 
administration of any state is said by us to be a citizens of that 
state; and, speaking generally, a state is a body of citizens 
sufficing for the purposes of life. 


But in practice a citizen is defined to be one of whom both the 
parents are citizens; others insist on going further back; say to 
two or three or more ancestors. This is a short and practical 
definition but there are some who raise the further question: How this 
third or fourth ancestor came to be a citizen? Gorgias of Leontini, 
partly because he was in a difficulty, partly in irony, said- 'Mortars 
are what is made by the mortar-makers, and the citizens of Larissa are 
those who are made by the magistrates; for it is their trade to make 
Larissaeans . ' Yet the question is really simple, for, if according 
to the definition just given they shared in the government, they 
were citizens. This is a better definition than the other. For the 
words, 'born of a father or mother who is a citizen, ' cannot 
possibly apply to the first inhabitants or founders of a state. 

There is a greater difficulty in the case of those who have been 
made citizens after a revolution, as by Cleisthenes at Athens after 
the expulsion of the tyrants, for he enrolled in tribes many metics, 
both strangers and slaves. The doubt in these cases is, not who is, 
but whether he who is ought to be a citizen; and there will still be a 
furthering the state, whether a certain act is or is not an act of the 
state; for what ought not to be is what is false. Now, there are 
some who hold office, and yet ought not to hold office, whom we 

describe as ruling, but ruling unjustly. And the citizen was defined 
by the fact of his holding some kind of rule or office- he who holds a 
judicial or legislative office fulfills our definition of a citizen. 
It is evident, therefore, that the citizens about whom the doubt has 
arisen must be called citizens. 


Whether they ought to be so or not is a question which is bound up 
with the previous inquiry. For a parallel question is raised 
respecting the state, whether a certain act is or is not an act of the 
state; for example, in the transition from an oligarchy or a tyranny 
to a democracy. In such cases persons refuse to fulfill their 
contracts or any other obligations, on the ground that the tyrant, and 
not the state, contracted them; they argue that some constitutions are 
established by force, and not for the sake of the common good. But 
this would apply equally to democracies, for they too may be founded 
on violence, and then the acts of the democracy will be neither more 
nor less acts of the state in question than those of an oligarchy or 
of a tyranny. This question runs up into another: on what principle 
shall we ever say that the state is the same, or different? It would 
be a very superficial view which considered only the place and the 
inhabitants (for the soil and the population may be separated, and 
some of the inhabitants may live in one place and some in another) . 
This, however, is not a very serious difficulty; we need only remark 
that the word 'state' is ambiguous. 

It is further asked: When are men, living in the same place, to be 
regarded as a single city- what is the limit? Certainly not the wall 
of the city, for you might surround all Peloponnesus with a wall. Like 
this, we may say, is Babylon, and every city that has the compass of a 
nation rather than a city; Babylon, they say, had been taken for three 
days before some part of the inhabitants became aware of the fact. 
This difficulty may, however, with advantage be deferred to another 
occasion; the statesman has to consider the size of the state, and 
whether it should consist of more than one nation or not. 

Again, shall we say that while the race of inhabitants, as well as 
their place of abode, remain the same, the city is also the same, 
although the citizens are always dying and being born, as we call 
rivers and fountains the same, although the water is always flowing 
away and coming again Or shall we say that the generations of men, 
like the rivers, are the same, but that the state changes? For, 
since the state is a partnership, and is a partnership of citizens 
in a constitution, when the form of government changes, and becomes 
different, then it may be supposed that the state is no longer the 
same, just as a tragic differs from a comic chorus, although the 
members of both may be identical. And in this manner we speak of every 
union or composition of elements as different when the form of their 
composition alters; for example, a scale containing the same sounds is 
said to be different, accordingly as the Dorian or the Phrygian mode 
is employed. And if this is true it is evident that the sameness of 
the state consists chiefly in the sameness of the constitution, and it 
may be called or not called by the same name, whether the 
inhabitants are the same or entirely different. It is quite another 
question, whether a state ought or ought not to fulfill engagements 
when the form of government changes. 


There is a point nearly allied to the preceding: Whether the 
virtue of a good man and a good citizen is the same or not. But, 
before entering on this discussion, we must certainly first obtain 
some general notion of the virtue of the citizen. Like the sailor, the 
citizen is a member of a community. Now, sailors have different 
functions, for one of them is a rower, another a pilot, and a third 
a look-out man, a fourth is described by some similar term; and 
while the precise definition of each individual's virtue applies 

exclusively to him, there is, at the same time, a common definition 
applicable to them all. For they have all of them a common object, 
which is safety in navigation. Similarly, one citizen differs from 
another, but the salvation of the community is the common business 
of them all. This community is the constitution; the virtue of the 
citizen must therefore be relative to the constitution of which he 
is a member. If, then, there are many forms of government, it is 
evident that there is not one single virtue of the good citizen 
which is perfect virtue. But we say that the good man is he who has 
one single virtue which is perfect virtue. Hence it is evident that 
the good citizen need not of necessity possess the virtue which 
makes a good man. 

The same question may also be approached by another road, from a 
consideration of the best constitution. If the state cannot be 
entirely composed of good men, and yet each citizen is expected to 
do his own business well, and must therefore have virtue, still 
inasmuch as all the citizens cannot be alike, the virtue of the 
citizen and of the good man cannot coincide. All must have the 
virtue of the good citizen- thus, and thus only, can the state be 
perfect; but they will not have the virtue of a good man, unless we 
assume that in the good state all the citizens must be good. 

Again, the state, as composed of unlikes, may be compared to the 
living being: as the first elements into which a living being is 
resolved are soul and body, as soul is made up of rational principle 
and appetite, the family of husband and wife, property of master and 
slave, so of all these, as well as other dissimilar elements, the 
state is composed; and, therefore, the virtue of all the citizens 
cannot possibly be the same, any more than the excellence of the 
leader of a chorus is the same as that of the performer who stands 
by his side. I have said enough to show why the two kinds of virtue 
cannot be absolutely and always the same. 

But will there then be no case in which the virtue of the good 
citizen and the virtue of the good man coincide? To this we answer 
that the good ruler is a good and wise man, and that he who would be a 
statesman must be a wise man. And some persons say that even the 
education of the ruler should be of a special kind; for are not the 
children of kings instructed in riding and military exercises? As 
Euripides says : 

No subtle arts for me, but what the state requires. 

As though there were a special education needed by a ruler. If then 
the virtue of a good ruler is the same as that of a good man, and we 
assume further that the subject is a citizen as well as the ruler, the 
virtue of the good citizen and the virtue of the good man cannot be 
absolutely the same, although in some cases they may; for the virtue 
of a ruler differs from that of a citizen. It was the sense of this 
difference which made Jason say that 'he felt hungry when he was not a 
tyrant, ' meaning that he could not endure to live in a private 
station. But, on the other hand, it may be argued that men are praised 
for knowing both how to rule and how to obey, and he is said to be a 
citizen of approved virtue who is able to do both. Now if we suppose 
the virtue of a good man to be that which rules, and the virtue of the 
citizen to include ruling and obeying, it cannot be said that they are 
equally worthy of praise. Since, then, it is sometimes thought that 
the ruler and the ruled must learn different things and not the 
same, but that the citizen must know and share in them both, the 
inference is obvious. There is, indeed, the rule of a master, which is 
concerned with menial offices- the master need not know how to perform 
these, but may employ others in the execution of them: the other would 
be degrading; and by the other I mean the power actually to do 
menial duties, which vary much in character and are executed by 
various classes of slaves, such, for example, as handicraftsmen, 
who, as their name signifies, live by the labor of their hands: 

under these the mechanic is included. Hence in ancient times, and 
among some nations, the working classes had no share in the 
government- a privilege which they only acquired under the extreme 
democracy. Certainly the good man and the statesman and the good 
citizen ought not to learn the crafts of inferiors except for their 
own occasional use; if they habitually practice them, there will cease 
to be a distinction between master and slave. 

This is not the rule of which we are speaking; but there is a rule 
of another kind, which is exercised over freemen and equals by birth 
-a constitutional rule, which the ruler must learn by obeying, as he 
would learn the duties of a general of cavalry by being under the 
orders of a general of cavalry, or the duties of a general of infantry 
by being under the orders of a general of infantry, and by having 
had the command of a regiment and of a company. It has been well 
said that 'he who has never learned to obey cannot be a good 
commander. ' The two are not the same, but the good citizen ought to be 
capable of both; he should know how to govern like a freeman, and 
how to obey like a freeman- these are the virtues of a citizen. And, 
although the temperance and justice of a ruler are distinct from those 
of a subject, the virtue of a good man will include both; for the 
virtue of the good man who is free and also a subject, e.g., his 
justice, will not be one but will comprise distinct kinds, the one 
qualifying him to rule, the other to obey, and differing as the 
temperance and courage of men and women differ. For a man would be 
thought a coward if he had no more courage than a courageous woman, 
and a woman would be thought loquacious if she imposed no more 
restraint on her conversation than the good man; and indeed their part 
in the management of the household is different, for the duty of the 
one is to acquire, and of the other to preserve. Practical wisdom only 
is characteristic of the ruler: it would seem that all other virtues 
must equally belong to ruler and subject. The virtue of the subject is 
certainly not wisdom, but only true opinion; he may be compared to the 
maker of the flute, while his master is like the flute-player or 
user of the flute. 

From these considerations may be gathered the answer to the 
question, whether the virtue of the good man is the same as that of 
the good citizen, or different, and how far the same, and how far 
different . 


There still remains one more question about the citizen: Is he 
only a true citizen who has a share of office, or is the mechanic to 
be included? If they who hold no office are to be deemed citizens, not 
every citizen can have this virtue of ruling and obeying; for this man 
is a citizen And if none of the lower class are citizens, in which 
part of the state are they to be placed? For they are not resident 
aliens, and they are not foreigners. May we not reply, that as far 
as this objection goes there is no more absurdity in excluding them 
than in excluding slaves and freedmen from any of the 
above-mentioned classes? It must be admitted that we cannot consider 
all those to be citizens who are necessary to the existence of the 
state; for example, children are not citizen equally with grown-up 
men, who are citizens absolutely, but children, not being grown up, 
are only citizens on a certain assumption. Nay, in ancient times, 
and among some nations the artisan class were slaves or foreigners, 
and therefore the majority of them are so now. The best form of 
state will not admit them to citizenship; but if they are admitted, 
then our definition of the virtue of a citizen will not apply to every 
citizen nor to every free man as such, but only to those who are freed 
from necessary services. The necessary people are either slaves who 
minister to the wants of individuals, or mechanics and laborers who 
are the servants of the community. These reflections carried a 
little further will explain their position; and indeed what has been 
said already is of itself, when understood, explanation enough. 

Since there are many forms of government there must be many 
varieties of citizen and especially of citizens who are subjects; so 
that under some governments the mechanic and the laborer will be 
citizens, but not in others, as, for example, in aristocracy or the 
so-called government of the best (if there be such an one), in which 
honors are given according to virtue and merit; for no man can 
practice virtue who is living the life of a mechanic or laborer. In 
oligarchies the qualification for office is high, and therefore no 
laborer can ever be a citizen; but a mechanic may, for an actual 
majority of them are rich. At Thebes there was a law that no man could 
hold office who had not retired from business for ten years. But in 
many states the law goes to the length of admitting aliens; for in 
some democracies a man is a citizen though his mother only be a 
citizen; and a similar principle is applied to illegitimate 
children; the law is relaxed when there is a dearth of population. But 
when the number of citizens increases, first the children of a male or 
a female slave are excluded; then those whose mothers only are 
citizens; and at last the right of citizenship is confined to those 
whose fathers and mothers are both citizens. 

Hence, as is evident, there are different kinds of citizens; and 
he is a citizen in the highest sense who shares in the honors of the 
state. Compare Homer's words, 'like some dishonored stranger'; he 
who is excluded from the honors of the state is no better than an 
alien. But when his exclusion is concealed, then the object is that 
the privileged class may deceive their fellow inhabitants. 

As to the question whether the virtue of the good man is the same as 
that of the good citizen, the considerations already adduced prove that 
in some states the good man and the good citizen are the same, and in 
others different. When they are the same it is not every citizen who 
is a good man, but only the statesman and those who have or may have, 
alone or in conjunction with others, the conduct of public affairs. 


Having determined these questions, we have next to consider 
whether there is only one form of government or many, and if many, 
what they are, and how many, and what are the differences between 

A constitution is the arrangement of magistracies in a state, 
especially of the highest of all. The government is everywhere 
sovereign in the state, and the constitution is in fact the 
government. For example, in democracies the people are supreme, but in 
oligarchies, the few; and, therefore, we say that these two forms of 
government also are different: and so in other cases. 

First, let us consider what is the purpose of a state, and how 
many forms of government there are by which human society is 
regulated. We have already said, in the first part of this treatise, 
when discussing household management and the rule of a master, that 
man is by nature a political animal. And therefore, men, even when 
they do not require one another's help, desire to live together; not 
but that they are also brought together by their common interests in 
proportion as they severally attain to any measure of well-being. This 
is certainly the chief end, both of individuals and of states. And 
also for the sake of mere life (in which there is possibly some 
noble element so long as the evils of existence do not greatly 
overbalance the good) mankind meet together and maintain the political 
community. And we all see that men cling to life even at the cost of 
enduring great misfortune, seeming to find in life a natural sweetness 
and happiness. 

There is no difficulty in distinguishing the various kinds of 
authority; they have been often defined already in discussions outside 
the school. The rule of a master, although the slave by nature and the 
master by nature have in reality the same interests, is nevertheless 
exercised primarily with a view to the interest of the master, but 
accidentally considers the slave, since, if the slave perish, the rule 

of the master perishes with him. On the other hand, the government 
of a wife and children and of a household, which we have called 
household management, is exercised in the first instance for the 
good of the governed or for the common good of both parties, but 
essentially for the good of the governed, as we see to be the case 
in medicine, gymnastic, and the arts in general, which are only 
accidentally concerned with the good of the artists themselves. For 
there is no reason why the trainer may not sometimes practice 
gymnastics, and the helmsman is always one of the crew. The trainer or 
the helmsman considers the good of those committed to his care. But, 
when he is one of the persons taken care of, he accidentally 
participates in the advantage, for the helmsman is also a sailor, 
and the trainer becomes one of those in training. And so in 
politics: when the state is framed upon the principle of equality 
and likeness, the citizens think that they ought to hold office by 
turns. Formerly, as is natural, every one would take his turn of 
service; and then again, somebody else would look after his 
interest, just as he, while in office, had looked after theirs. But 
nowadays, for the sake of the advantage which is to be gained from the 
public revenues and from office, men want to be always in office. 
One might imagine that the rulers, being sickly, were only kept in 
health while they continued in office; in that case we may be sure 
that they would be hunting after places. The conclusion is evident: 
that governments which have a regard to the common interest are 
constituted in accordance with strict principles of justice, and are 
therefore true forms; but those which regard only the interest of 
the rulers are all defective and perverted forms, for they are 
despotic, whereas a state is a community of freemen. 


Having determined these points, we have next to consider how many 
forms of government there are, and what they are; and in the first 
place what are the true forms, for when they are determined the 
perversions of them will at once be apparent. The words constitution 
and government have the same meaning, and the government, which is the 
supreme authority in states, must be in the hands of one, or of a few, 
or of the many. The true forms of government, therefore, are those 
in which the one, or the few, or the many, govern with a view to the 
common interest; but governments which rule with a view to the private 
interest, whether of the one or of the few, or of the many, are 
perversions. For the members of a state, if they are truly citizens, 
ought to participate in its advantages. Of forms of government in 
which one rules, we call that which regards the common interests, 
kingship or royalty; that in which more than one, but not many, 
rule, aristocracy; and it is so called, either because the rulers 
are the best men, or because they have at heart the best interests 
of the state and of the citizens. But when the citizens at large 
administer the state for the common interest, the government is called 
by the generic name- a constitution. And there is a reason for this 
use of language. One man or a few may excel in virtue; but as the 
number increases it becomes more difficult for them to attain 
perfection in every kind of virtue, though they may in military 
virtue, for this is found in the masses. Hence in a constitutional 
government the fighting-men have the supreme power, and those who 
possess arms are the citizens. 

Of the above-mentioned forms, the perversions are as follows: of 
royalty, tyranny; of aristocracy, oligarchy; of constitutional 
government, democracy. For tyranny is a kind of monarchy which has 
in view the interest of the monarch only; oligarchy has in view the 
interest of the wealthy; democracy, of the needy: none of them the 
common good of all. 


But there are difficulties about these forms of government, and it 

will therefore be necessary to state a little more at length the 
nature of each of them. For he who would make a philosophical study of 
the various sciences, and does not regard practice only, ought not 
to overlook or omit anything, but to set forth the truth in every 
particular. Tyranny, as I was saying, is monarchy exercising the 
rule of a master over the political society; oligarchy is when men 
of property have the government in their hands; democracy, the 
opposite, when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the 
rulers. And here arises the first of our difficulties, and it 
relates to the distinction drawn. For democracy is said to be the 
government of the many. But what if the many are men of property and 
have the power in their hands? In like manner oligarchy is said to 
be the government of the few; but what if the poor are fewer than 
the rich, and have the power in their hands because they are stronger? 
In these cases the distinction which we have drawn between these 
different forms of government would no longer hold good. 

Suppose, once more, that we add wealth to the few and poverty to the 
many, and name the governments accordingly- an oligarchy is said to be 
that in which the few and the wealthy, and a democracy that in which 
the many and the poor are the rulers- there will still be a 
difficulty. For, if the only forms of government are the ones 
already mentioned, how shall we describe those other governments 
also just mentioned by us, in which the rich are the more numerous and 
the poor are the fewer, and both govern in their respective states? 

The argument seems to show that, whether in oligarchies or in 
democracies, the number of the governing body, whether the greater 
number, as in a democracy, or the smaller number, as in an 
oligarchy, is an accident due to the fact that the rich everywhere are 
few, and the poor numerous. But if so, there is a misapprehension of 
the causes of the difference between them. For the real difference 
between democracy and oligarchy is poverty and wealth. Wherever men 
rule by reason of their wealth, whether they be few or many, that is 
an oligarchy, and where the poor rule, that is a democracy. But as a 
fact the rich are few and the poor many; for few are well-to-do, 
whereas freedom is enjoyed by an, and wealth and freedom are the 
grounds on which the oligarchical and democratical parties 
respectively claim power in the state. 


Let us begin by considering the common definitions of oligarchy 
and democracy, and what is justice oligarchical and democratical. 
For all men cling to justice of some kind, but their conceptions are 
imperfect and they do not express the whole idea. For example, justice 
is thought by them to be, and is, equality, not. however, for however, 
for but only for equals. And inequality is thought to be, and is, 
justice; neither is this for all, but only for unequals. When the 
persons are omitted, then men judge erroneously. The reason is that 
they are passing judgment on themselves, and most people are bad 
judges in their own case. And whereas justice implies a relation to 
persons as well as to things, and a just distribution, as I have 
already said in the Ethics, implies the same ratio between the persons 
and between the things, they agree about the equality of the things, 
but dispute about the equality of the persons, chiefly for the 
reason which I have just given- because they are bad judges in their 
own affairs; and secondly, because both the parties to the argument 
are speaking of a limited and partial justice, but imagine 
themselves to be speaking of absolute justice. For the one party, if 
they are unequal in one respect, for example wealth, consider 
themselves to be unequal in all; and the other party, if they are 
equal in one respect, for example free birth, consider themselves to 
be equal in all. But they leave out the capital point. For if men 
met and associated out of regard to wealth only, their share in the 
state would be proportioned to their property, and the oligarchical 
doctrine would then seem to carry the day. It would not be just that 

he who paid one mina should have the same share of a hundred minae, 
whether of the principal or of the profits, as he who paid the 
remaining ninety-nine. But a state exists for the sake of a good life, 
and not for the sake of life only: if life only were the object, 
slaves and brute animals might form a state, but they cannot, for they 
have no share in happiness or in a life of free choice. Nor does a 
state exist for the sake of alliance and security from injustice, 
nor yet for the sake of exchange and mutual intercourse; for then 
the Tyrrhenians and the Carthaginians, and all who have commercial 
treaties with one another, would be the citizens of one state. True, 
they have agreements about imports, and engagements that they will 
do no wrong to one another, and written articles of alliance. But 
there are no magistrates common to the contracting parties who will 
enforce their engagements; different states have each their own 
magistracies. Nor does one state take care that the citizens of the 
other are such as they ought to be, nor see that those who come 
under the terms of the treaty do no wrong or wickedness at an, but 
only that they do no injustice to one another. Whereas, those who care 
for good government take into consideration virtue and vice in states. 
Whence it may be further inferred that virtue must be the care of a 
state which is truly so called, and not merely enjoys the name: for 
without this end the community becomes a mere alliance which differs 
only in place from alliances of which the members live apart; and 
law is only a convention, 'a surety to one another of justice, ' as the 
sophist Lycophron says, and has no real power to make the citizens 

This is obvious; for suppose distinct places, such as Corinth and 
Megara, to be brought together so that their walls touched, still they 
would not be one city, not even if the citizens had the right to 
intermarry, which is one of the rights peculiarly characteristic of 
states. Again, if men dwelt at a distance from one another, but not so 
far off as to have no intercourse, and there were laws among them that 
they should not wrong each other in their exchanges, neither would 
this be a state. Let us suppose that one man is a carpenter, another a 
husbandman, another a shoemaker, and so on, and that their number is 
ten thousand: nevertheless, if they have nothing in common but 
exchange, alliance, and the like, that would not constitute a state. 
Why is this? Surely not because they are at a distance from one 
another: for even supposing that such a community were to meet in 
one place, but that each man had a house of his own, which was in a 
manner his state, and that they made alliance with one another, but 
only against evil-doers; still an accurate thinker would not deem this 
to be a state, if their intercourse with one another was of the same 
character after as before their union. It is clear then that a state 
is not a mere society, having a common place, established for the 
prevention of mutual crime and for the sake of exchange. These are 
conditions without which a state cannot exist; but all of them 
together do not constitute a state, which is a community of families 
and aggregations of families in well-being, for the sake of a 
perfect and self-sufficing life. Such a community can only be 
established among those who live in the same place and intermarry. 
Hence arise in cities family connections, brotherhoods, common 
sacrifices, amusements which draw men together. But these are 
created by friendship, for the will to live together is friendship. 
The end of the state is the good life, and these are the means towards 
it. And the state is the union of families and villages in a perfect 
and self-sufficing life, by which we mean a happy and honorable life. 

Our conclusion, then, is that political society exists for the 
sake of noble actions, and not of mere companionship. Hence they who 
contribute most to such a society have a greater share in it than 
those who have the same or a greater freedom or nobility of birth 
but are inferior to them in political virtue; or than those who exceed 
them in wealth but are surpassed by them in virtue. 

From what has been said it will be clearly seen that all the 
partisans of different forms of government speak of a part of 

justice only. 


There is also a doubt as to what is to be the supreme power in the 
state: Is it the multitude? Or the wealthy? Or the good? Or the one 
best man? Or a tyrant? Any of these alternatives seems to involve 
disagreeable consequences. If the poor, for example, because they 
are more in number, divide among themselves the property of the 
rich- is not this unjust? No, by heaven (will be the reply), for the 
supreme authority justly willed it. But if this is not injustice, pray 
what is? Again, when in the first division all has been taken, and the 
majority divide anew the property of the minority, is it not 
evident, if this goes on, that they will ruin the state? Yet surely, 
virtue is not the ruin of those who possess her, nor is justice 
destructive of a state; and therefore this law of confiscation clearly 
cannot be just. If it were, all the acts of a tyrant must of necessity 
be just; for he only coerces other men by superior power, just as 
the multitude coerce the rich. But is it just then that the few and 
the wealthy should be the rulers? And what if they, in like manner, 
rob and plunder the people- is this just? if so, the other case will 
likewise be just. But there can be no doubt that all these things 
are wrong and unjust. 

Then ought the good to rule and have supreme power? But in that case 
everybody else, being excluded from power, will be dishonored. For the 
offices of a state are posts of honor; and if one set of men always 
holds them, the rest must be deprived of them. Then will it be well 
that the one best man should rule? Nay, that is still more 
oligarchical, for the number of those who are dishonored is thereby 
increased. Some one may say that it is bad in any case for a man, 
subject as he is to all the accidents of human passion, to have the 
supreme power, rather than the law. But what if the law itself be 
democratical or oligarchical, how will that help us out of our 
difficulties? Not at all; the same consequences will follow. 


Most of these questions may be reserved for another occasion. The 
principle that the multitude ought to be supreme rather than the few 
best is one that is maintained, and, though not free from 
difficulty, yet seems to contain an element of truth. For the many, of 
whom each individual is but an ordinary person, when they meet 
together may very likely be better than the few good, if regarded 
not individually but collectively, just as a feast to which many 
contribute is better than a dinner provided out of a single purse. For 
each individual among the many has a share of virtue and prudence, and 
when they meet together, they become in a manner one man, who has many 
feet, and hands, and senses; that is a figure of their mind and 
disposition. Hence the many are better judges than a single man of 
music and poetry; for some understand one part, and some another, 
and among them they understand the whole. There is a similar 
combination of qualities in good men, who differ from any individual 
of the many, as the beautiful are said to differ from those who are 
not beautiful, and works of art from realities, because in them the 
scattered elements are combined, although, if taken separately, the 
eye of one person or some other feature in another person would be 
fairer than in the picture. Whether this principle can apply to 
every democracy, and to all bodies of men, is not clear. Or rather, by 
heaven, in some cases it is impossible of application; for the 
argument would equally hold about brutes; and wherein, it will be 
asked, do some men differ from brutes? But there may be bodies of 
men about whom our statement is nevertheless true. And if so, the 
difficulty which has been already raised, and also another which is 
akin to it -viz., what power should be assigned to the mass of freemen 
and citizens, who are not rich and have no personal merit- are both 
solved. There is still a danger in aflowing them to share the great 

offices of state, for their folly will lead them into error, and their 
dishonesty into crime. But there is a danger also in not letting 
them share, for a state in which many poor men are excluded from 
office will necessarily be full of enemies. The only way of escape 
is to assign to them some deliberative and judicial functions. For 
this reason Solon and certain other legislators give them the power of 
electing to offices, and of calling the magistrates to account, but 
they do not allow them to hold office singly. When they meet 
together their perceptions are quite good enough, and combined with 
the better class they are useful to the state (just as impure food 
when mixed with what is pure sometimes makes the entire mass more 
wholesome than a small quantity of the pure would be) , but each 
individual, left to himself, forms an imperfect judgment. On the other 
hand, the popular form of government involves certain difficulties. In 
the first place, it might be objected that he who can judge of the 
healing of a sick man would be one who could himself heal his disease, 
and make him whole- that is, in other words, the physician; and so 
in all professions and arts. As, then, the physician ought to be 
called to account by physicians, so ought men in general to be 
called to account by their peers. But physicians are of three kinds: 
there is the ordinary practitioner, and there is the physician of 
the higher class, and thirdly the intelligent man who has studied 
the art: in all arts there is such a class; and we attribute the power 
of judging to them quite as much as to professors of the art. 
Secondly, does not the same principle apply to elections? For a 
right election can only be made by those who have knowledge; those who 
know geometry, for example, will choose a geometrician rightly, and 
those who know how to steer, a pilot; and, even if there be some 
occupations and arts in which private persons share in the ability 
to choose, they certainly cannot choose better than those who know. So 
that, according to this argument, neither the election of magistrates, 
nor the calling of them to account, should be entrusted to the many. 
Yet possibly these objections are to a great extent met by our old 
answer, that if the people are not utterly degraded, although 
individually they may be worse judges than those who have special 
knowledge- as a body they are as good or better. Moreover, there are 
some arts whose products are not judged of solely, or best, by the 
artists themselves, namely those arts whose products are recognized 
even by those who do not possess the art; for example, the knowledge 
of the house is not limited to the builder only; the user, or, in 
other words, the master, of the house will be even a better judge than 
the builder, just as the pilot will judge better of a rudder than 
the carpenter, and the guest will judge better of a feast than the 
cook . 

This difficulty seems now to be sufficiently answered, but there 
is another akin to it. That inferior persons should have authority 
in greater matters than the good would appear to be a strange thing, 
yet the election and calling to account of the magistrates is the 
greatest of all. And these, as I was saying, are functions which in 
some states are assigned to the people, for the assembly is supreme in 
all such matters. Yet persons of any age, and having but a small 
property qualification, sit in the assembly and deliberate and 
judge, although for the great officers of state, such as treasurers 
and generals, a high qualification is required. This difficulty may be 
solved in the same manner as the preceding, and the present practice 
of democracies may be really defensible. For the power does not reside 
in the dicast, or senator, or ecclesiast, but in the court, and the 
senate, and the assembly, of which individual senators, or 
ecclesiasts, or dicasts, are only parts or members. And for this 
reason the many may claim to have a higher authority than the few; for 
the people, and the senate, and the courts consist of many persons, 
and their property collectively is greater than the property of one or 
of a few individuals holding great offices. But enough of this. 

The discussion of the first question shows nothing so clearly as 

that laws, when good, should be supreme; and that the magistrate or 
magistrates should regulate those matters only on which the laws are 
unable to speak with precision owing to the difficulty of any 
general principle embracing all particulars. But what are good laws 
has not yet been clearly explained; the old difficulty remains. The 
goodness or badness, justice or injustice, of laws varies of necessity 
with the constitutions of states. This, however, is clear, that the 
laws must be adapted to the constitutions. But if so, true forms of 
government will of necessity have just laws, and perverted forms of 
government will have unjust laws. 


In all sciences and arts the end is a good, and the greatest good 
and in the highest degree a good in the most authoritative of all- 
this is the political science of which the good is justice, in other 
words, the common interest. All men think justice to be a sort of 
equality; and to a certain extent they agree in the philosophical 
distinctions which have been laid down by us about Ethics. For they 
admit that justice is a thing and has a relation to persons, and 
that equals ought to have equality. But there still remains a 
question: equality or inequality of what? Here is a difficulty which 
calls for political speculation. For very likely some persons will say 
that offices of state ought to be unequally distributed according to 
superior excellence, in whatever respect, of the citizen, although 
there is no other difference between him and the rest of the 
community; for that those who differ in any one respect have different 
rights and claims. But, surely, if this is true, the complexion or 
height of a man, or any other advantage, will be a reason for his 
obtaining a greater share of political rights. The error here lies 
upon the surface, and may be illustrated from the other arts and 
sciences. When a number of flute players are equal in their art, there 
is no reason why those of them who are better born should have 
better flutes given to them; for they will not play any better on 
the flute, and the superior instrument should be reserved for him 
who is the superior artist. If what I am saying is still obscure, it 
will be made clearer as we proceed. For if there were a superior 
flute-player who was far inferior in birth and beauty, although either 
of these may be a greater good than the art of flute-playing, and 
may excel flute-playing in a greater ratio than he excels the others 
in his art, still he ought to have the best flutes given to him, 
unless the advantages of wealth and birth contribute to excellence 
in flute-playing, which they do not. Moreover, upon this principle any 
good may be compared with any other. For if a given height may be 
measured wealth and against freedom, height in general may be so 
measured. Thus if A excels in height more than B in virtue, even if 
virtue in general excels height still more, all goods will be 
commensurable; for if a certain amount is better than some other, it 
is clear that some other will be equal. But since no such comparison 
can be made, it is evident that there is good reason why in politics 
men do not ground their claim to office on every sort of inequality 
any more than in the arts. For if some be slow, and others swift, that 
is no reason why the one should have little and the others much; it is 
in gymnastics contests that such excellence is rewarded. Whereas the 
rival claims of candidates for office can only be based on the 
possession of elements which enter into the composition of a state. 
And therefore the noble, or free-born, or rich, may with good reason 
claim office; for holders of offices must be freemen and taxpayers: 
a state can be no more composed entirely of poor men than entirely 
of slaves. But if wealth and freedom are necessary elements, justice 
and valor are equally so; for without the former qualities a state 
cannot exist at all, without the latter not well. 


If the existence of the state is alone to be considered, then it 

would seem that all, or some at least, of these claims are just; 
but, if we take into account a good life, then, as I have already 
said, education and virtue have superior claims. As, however, those 
who are equal in one thing ought not to have an equal share in all, 
nor those who are unequal in one thing to have an unequal share in 
all, it is certain that all forms of government which rest on either 
of these principles are perversions. All men have a claim in a certain 
sense, as I have already admitted, but all have not an absolute claim. 
The rich claim because they have a greater share in the land, and land 
is the common element of the state; also they are generally more 
trustworthy in contracts . The free claim under the same tide as the 
noble; for they are nearly akin. For the noble are citizens in a truer 
sense than the ignoble, and good birth is always valued in a man's own 
home and country. Another reason is, that those who are sprung from 
better ancestors are likely to be better men, for nobility is 
excellence of race. Virtue, too, may be truly said to have a claim, 
for justice has been acknowledged by us to be a social virtue, and 
it implies all others. Again, the many may urge their claim against 
the few; for, when taken collectively, and compared with the few, they 
are stronger and richer and better. But, what if the good, the rich, 
the noble, and the other classes who make up a state, are all living 
together in the same city, Will there, or will there not, be any doubt 
who shall rule? No doubt at all in determining who ought to rule in 
each of the above-mentioned forms of government. For states are 
characterized by differences in their governing bodies-one of them has 
a government of the rich, another of the virtuous, and so on. But a 
difficulty arises when all these elements co-exist. How are we to 
decide? Suppose the virtuous to be very few in number: may we consider 
their numbers in relation to their duties, and ask whether they are 
enough to administer the state, or so many as will make up a state? 
Objections may be urged against all the aspirants to political 
power. For those who found their claims on wealth or family might be 
thought to have no basis of justice; on this principle, if any one 
person were richer than all the rest, it is clear that he ought to 
be ruler of them. In like manner he who is very distinguished by his 
birth ought to have the superiority over all those who claim on the 
ground that they are freeborn. In an aristocracy, or government of the 
best, a like difficulty occurs about virtue; for if one citizen be 
better than the other members of the government, however good they may 
be, he too, upon the same principle of justice, should rule over them. 
And if the people are to be supreme because they are stronger than the 
few, then if one man, or more than one, but not a majority, is 
stronger than the many, they ought to rule, and not the many. 

All these considerations appear to show that none of the 
principles on which men claim to rule and to hold all other men in 
subjection to them are strictly right. To those who claim to be 
masters of the government on the ground of their virtue or their 
wealth, the many might fairly answer that they themselves are often 
better and richer than the few- I do not say individually, but 
collectively. And another ingenious objection which is sometimes put 
forward may be met in a similar manner. Some persons doubt whether the 
legislator who desires to make the justest laws ought to legislate 
with a view to the good of the higher classes or of the many, when the 
case which we have mentioned occurs. Now what is just or right is to 
be interpreted in the sense of 'what is equal'; and that which is 
right in the sense of being equal is to be considered with reference 
to the advantage of the state, and the common good of the citizens. 
And a citizen is one who shares in governing and being governed. He 
differs under different forms of government, but in the best state 
he is one who is able and willing to be governed and to govern with 
a view to the life of virtue. 

If, however, there be some one person, or more than one, although 
not enough to make up the full complement of a state, whose virtue 
is so pre-eminent that the virtues or the political capacity of all 

the rest admit of no comparison with his or theirs, he or they can 
be no longer regarded as part of a state; for justice will not be done 
to the superior, if he is reckoned only as the equal of those who 
are so far inferior to him in virtue and in political capacity. Such 
an one may truly be deemed a God among men. Hence we see that 
legislation is necessarily concerned only with those who are equal 
in birth and in capacity; and that for men of pre-eminent virtue there 
is no law- they are themselves a law. Any would be ridiculous who 
attempted to make laws for them: they would probably retort what, in 
the fable of Antisthenes, the lions said to the hares, when in the 
council of the beasts the latter began haranguing and claiming 
equality for all. And for this reason democratic states have 
instituted ostracism; equality is above all things their aim, and 
therefore they ostracized and banished from the city for a time 
those who seemed to predominate too much through their wealth, or 
the number of their friends, or through any other political influence. 
Mythology tells us that the Argonauts left Heracles behind for a 
similar reason; the ship Argo would not take him because she feared 
that he would have been too much for the rest of the crew. Wherefore 
those who denounce tyranny and blame the counsel which Periander 
gave to Thrasybulus cannot be held altogether just in their censure. 
The story is that Periander, when the herald was sent to ask counsel 
of him, said nothing, but only cut off the tallest ears of corn till 
he had brought the field to a level . The herald did not know the 
meaning of the action, but came and reported what he had seen to 
Thrasybulus, who understood that he was to cut off the principal men 
in the state; and this is a policy not only expedient for tyrants or 
in practice confined to them, but equally necessary in oligarchies and 
democracies. Ostracism is a measure of the same kind, which acts by 
disabling and banishing the most prominent citizens. Great powers do 
the same to whole cities and nations, as the Athenians did to the 
Samians, Chians, and Lesbians; no sooner had they obtained a firm 
grasp of the empire, than they humbled their allies contrary to 
treaty; and the Persian king has repeatedly crushed the Medes, 
Babylonians, and other nations, when their spirit has been stirred 
by the recollection of their former greatness. 

The problem is a universal one, and equally concerns all forms of 
government, true as well as false; for, although perverted forms 
with a view to their own interests may adopt this policy, those 
which seek the common interest do so likewise. The same thing may be 
observed in the arts and sciences; for the painter will not allow 
the figure to have a foot which, however beautiful, is not in 
proportion, nor will the shipbuilder allow the stem or any other 
part of the vessel to be unduly large, any more than the chorus-master 
will allow any one who sings louder or better than all the rest to 
sing in the choir. Monarchs, too, may practice compulsion and still 
live in harmony with their cities, if their own government is for 
the interest of the state. Hence where there is an acknowledged 
superiority the argument in favor of ostracism is based upon a kind of 
political justice. It would certainly be better that the legislator 
should from the first so order his state as to have no need of such 
a remedy. But if the need arises, the next best thing is that he 
should endeavor to correct the evil by this or some similar measure. 
The principle, however, has not been fairly applied in states; for, 
instead of looking to the good of their own constitution, they have 
used ostracism for factious purposes. It is true that under 
perverted forms of government, and from their special point of view, 
such a measure is just and expedient, but it is also clear that it 
is not absolutely just. In the perfect state there would be great 
doubts about the use of it, not when applied to excess in strength, 
wealth, popularity, or the like, but when used against some one who is 
pre-eminent in virtue- what is to be done with him? Mankind will not 
say that such an one is to be expelled and exiled; on the other 
hand, he ought not to be a subject- that would be as if mankind should 

claim to rule over Zeus, dividing his offices among them. The only 
alternative is that all should joyfully obey such a ruler, according 
to what seems to be the order of nature, and that men like him 
should be kings in their state for life. 


The preceding discussion, by a natural transition, leads to the 
consideration of royalty, which we admit to be one of the true forms 
of government. Let us see whether in order to be well governed a state 
or country should be under the rule of a king or under some other form 
of government; and whether monarchy, although good for some, may not 
be bad for others. But first we must determine whether there is one 
species of royalty or many. It is easy to see that there are many, and 
that the manner of government is not the same in all of them. 

Of royalties according to law, (1) the Lacedaemonian is thought to 
answer best to the true pattern; but there the royal power is not 
absolute, except when the kings go on an expedition, and then they 
take the command. Matters of religion are likewise committed to 
them. The kingly office is in truth a kind of generalship, 
irresponsible and perpetual. The king has not the power of life and 
death, except in a specified case, as for instance, in ancient 
times, he had it when upon a campaign, by right of force. This 
custom is described in Homer. For Agamemnon is patient when he is 
attacked in the assembly, but when the army goes out to battle he 
has the power even of life and death. Does he not say- 'When I find 
a man skulking apart from the battle, nothing shall save him from 
the dogs and vultures, for in my hands is death'? 

This, then, is one form of royalty-a generalship for life: and of 
such royalties some are hereditary and others elective. 

(2) There is another sort of monarchy not uncommon among the 
barbarians, which nearly resembles tyranny. But this is both legal and 
hereditary. For barbarians, being more servile in character than 
Hellenes, and Asiadics than Europeans, do not rebel against a despotic 
government. Such royalties have the nature of tyrannies because the 
people are by nature slaves; but there is no danger of their being 
overthrown, for they are hereditary and legal. Wherefore also their 
guards are such as a king and not such as a tyrant would employ, 
that is to say, they are composed of citizens, whereas the guards of 
tyrants are mercenaries . For kings rule according to law over 
voluntary subjects, but tyrants over involuntary; and the one are 
guarded by their fellow-citizens the others are guarded against them. 

These are two forms of monarchy, and there was a third (3) which 
existed in ancient Hellas, called an Aesymnetia or dictatorship. 
This may be defined generally as an elective tyranny, which, like 
the barbarian monarchy, is legal, but differs from it in not being 
hereditary. Sometimes the office was held for life, sometimes for a 
term of years, or until certain duties had been performed. For 
example, the Mytilenaeans elected Pittacus leader against the 
exiles, who were headed by Antimenides and Alcaeus the poet. And 
Alcaeus himself shows in one of his banquet odes that they chose 
Pittacus tyrant, for he reproaches his fellow-citizens for 'having 
made the low-born Pittacus tyrant of the spiritless and ill-fated 
city, with one voice shouting his praises.' 

These forms of government have always had the character of 
tyrannies, because they possess despotic power; but inasmuch as they 
are elective and acquiesced in by their subjects, they are kingly. 

(4) There is a fourth species of kingly rule- that of the heroic 
times- which was hereditary and legal, and was exercised over 
willing subjects. For the first chiefs were benefactors of the 
people in arts or arms; they either gathered them into a community, or 
procured land for them; and thus they became kings of voluntary 
subjects, and their power was inherited by their descendants. They 
took the command in war and presided over the sacrifices, except those 
which required a priest. They also decided causes either with or 

without an oath; and when they swore, the form of the oath was the 
stretching out of their sceptre. In ancient times their power extended 
continuously to all things whatsoever, in city and country, as well as 
in foreign parts; but at a later date they relinquished several of 
these privileges, and others the people took from them, until in 
some states nothing was left to them but the sacrifices; and where 
they retained more of the reality they had only the right of 
leadership in war beyond the border. 

These, then, are the four kinds of royalty. First the monarchy of 
the heroic ages; this was exercised over voluntary subjects, but 
limited to certain functions; the king was a general and a judge, 
and had the control of religion The second is that of the 
barbarians, which is a hereditary despotic government in accordance 
with law. A third is the power of the so-called Aesynmete or Dictator; 
this is an elective tyranny. The fourth is the Lacedaemonian, which is 
in fact a generalship, hereditary and perpetual. These four forms 
differ from one another in the manner which I have described. 

(5) There is a fifth form of kingly rule in which one has the 
disposal of all, just as each nation or each state has the disposal of 
public matters; this form corresponds to the control of a household. 
For as household management is the kingly rule of a house, so kingly 
rule is the household management of a city, or of a nation, or of many 
nations . 


Of these forms we need only consider two, the Lacedaemonian and 
the absolute royalty; for most of the others he in a region between 
them, having less power than the last, and more than the first. Thus 
the inquiry is reduced to two points: first, is it advantageous to the 
state that there should be a perpetual general, and if so, should 
the office be confined to one family, or open to the citizens in turn? 
Secondly, is it well that a single man should have the supreme power 
in all things? The first question falls under the head of laws 
rather than of constitutions; for perpetual generalship might 
equally exist under any form of government, so that this matter may be 
dismissed for the present. The other kind of royalty is a sort of 
constitution; this we have now to consider, and briefly to run over 
the difficulties involved in it. We will begin by inquiring whether it 
is more advantageous to be ruled by the best man or by the best laws. 

The advocates of royalty maintain that the laws speak only in 
general terms, and cannot provide for circumstances; and that for 
any science to abide by written rules is absurd. In Egypt the 
physician is allowed to alter his treatment after the fourth day, 
but if sooner, he takes the risk. Hence it is clear that a 
government acting according to written laws is plainly not the best. 
Yet surely the ruler cannot dispense with the general principle 
which exists in law; and this is a better ruler which is free from 
passion than that in which it is innate. Whereas the law is 
passionless, passion must ever sway the heart of man. Yes, it may be 
replied, but then on the other hand an individual will be better 
able to deliberate in particular cases. 

The best man, then, must legislate, and laws must be passed, but 
these laws will have no authority when they miss the mark, though in 
all other cases retaining their authority. But when the law cannot 
determine a point at all, or not well, should the one best man or 
should all decide? According to our present practice assemblies 
meet, sit in judgment, deliberate, and decide, and their judgments 
an relate to individual cases. Now any member of the assembly, taken 
separately, is certainly inferior to the wise man. But the state is 
made up of many individuals. And as a feast to which all the guests 
contribute is better than a banquet furnished by a single man, so a 
multitude is a better judge of many things than any individual. 

Again, the many are more incorruptible than the few; they are like 
the greater quantity of water which is less easily corrupted than a 

little. The individual is liable to be overcome by anger or by some 
other passion, and then his judgment is necessarily perverted; but 
it is hardly to be supposed that a great number of persons would all 
get into a passion and go wrong at the same moment. Let us assume that 
they are the freemen, and that they never act in violation of the law, 
but fill up the gaps which the law is obliged to leave. Or, if such 
virtue is scarcely attainable by the multitude, we need only suppose 
that the majority are good men and good citizens, and ask which will 
be the more incorruptible, the one good ruler, or the many who are all 
good? Will not the many? But, you will say, there may be parties among 
them, whereas the one man is not divided against himself. To which 
we may answer that their character is as good as his. If we call the 
rule of many men, who are all of them good, aristocracy, and the 
rule of one man royalty, then aristocracy will be better for states 
than royalty, whether the government is supported by force or not, 
provided only that a number of men equal in virtue can be found. 

The first governments were kingships, probably for this reason, 
because of old, when cities were small, men of eminent virtue were 
few. Further, they were made kings because they were benefactors, 
and benefits can only be bestowed by good men. But when many persons 
equal in merit arose, no longer enduring the pre-eminence of one, they 
desired to have a commonwealth, and set up a constitution. The 
ruling class soon deteriorated and enriched themselves out of the 
public treasury; riches became the path to honor, and so oligarchies 
naturally grew up. These passed into tyrannies and tyrannies into 
democracies; for love of gain in the ruling classes was always tending 
to diminish their number, and so to strengthen the masses, who in 
the end set upon their masters and established democracies. Since 
cities have increased in size, no other form of government appears 
to be any longer even easy to establish. 

Even supposing the principle to be maintained that kingly power is 
the best thing for states, how about the family of the king? Are his 
children to succeed him? If they are no better than anybody else, that 
will be mischievous. But, says the lover of royalty, the king, 
though he might, will not hand on his power to his children. That, 
however, is hardly to be expected, and is too much to ask of human 
nature. There is also a difficulty about the force which he is to 
employ; should a king have guards about him by whose aid he may be 
able to coerce the refractory? If not, how will he administer his 
kingdom? Even if he be the lawful sovereign who does nothing 
arbitrarily or contrary to law, still he must have some force 
wherewith to maintain the law. In the case of a limited monarchy there 
is not much difficulty in answering this question; the king must 
have such force as will be more than a match for one or more 
individuals, but not so great as that of the people. The ancients 
observe this principle when they have guards to any one whom they 
appointed dictator or tyrant. Thus, when Dionysius asked the 
Syracusans to allow him guards, somebody advised that they should give 
him only such a number. 


At this place in the discussion there impends the inquiry respecting 
the king who acts solely according to his own will he has now to be 
considered. The so-called limited monarchy, or kingship according to 
law, as I have already remarked, is not a distinct form of government, 
for under all governments, as, for example, in a democracy or 
aristocracy, there may be a general holding office for life, and one 
person is often made supreme over the administration of a state. A 
magistracy of this kind exists at Epidamnus, and also at Opus, but 
in the latter city has a more limited power. Now, absolute monarchy, 
or the arbitrary rule of a sovereign over an the citizens, in a city 
which consists of equals, is thought by some to be quite contrary to 
nature; it is argued that those who are by nature equals must have the 
same natural right and worth, and that for unequals to have an equal 

share, or for equals to have an uneven share, in the offices of state, 
is as bad as for different bodily constitutions to have the same 
food and clothing. Wherefore it is thought to be just that among 
equals every one be ruled as well as rule, and therefore that an 
should have their turn. We thus arrive at law; for an order of 
succession implies law. And the rule of the law, it is argued, is 
preferable to that of any individual. On the same principle, even if 
it be better for certain individuals to govern, they should be made 
only guardians and ministers of the law. For magistrates there must 
be- this is admitted; but then men say that to give authority to any 
one man when all are equal is unjust. Nay, there may indeed be cases 
which the law seems unable to determine, but in such cases can a 
man? Nay, it will be replied, the law trains officers for this express 
purpose, and appoints them to determine matters which are left 
undecided by it, to the best of their judgment. Further, it permits 
them to make any amendment of the existing laws which experience 
suggests. Therefore he who bids the law rule may be deemed to bid 
God and Reason alone rule, but he who bids man rule adds an element of 
the beast; for desire is a wild beast, and passion perverts the 
minds of rulers, even when they are the best of men. The law is reason 
unaffected by desire. We are told that a patient should call in a 
physician; he will not get better if he is doctored out of a book. But 
the parallel of the arts is clearly not in point; for the physician 
does nothing contrary to rule from motives of friendship; he only 
cures a patient and takes a fee; whereas magistrates do many things 
from spite and partiality. And, indeed, if a man suspected the 
physician of being in league with his enemies to destroy him for a 
bribe, he would rather have recourse to the book. But certainly 
physicians, when they are sick, call in other physicians, and 
training-masters, when they are in training, other training-masters, 
as if they could not judge judge truly about their own case and 
might be influenced by their feelings. Hence it is evident that in 
seeking for justice men seek for the mean or neutral, for the law is 
the mean. Again, customary laws have more weight, and relate to more 
important matters, than written laws, and a man may be a safer ruler 
than the written law, but not safer than the customary law. 

Again, it is by no means easy for one man to superintend many 
things; he will have to appoint a number of subordinates, and what 
difference does it make whether these subordinates always existed or 
were appointed by him because he needed theme If, as I said before, 
the good man has a right to rule because he is better, still two 
good men are better than one: this is the old saying, two going 
together, and the prayer of Agamemnon, 

Would that I had ten such councillors! 

And at this day there are magistrates, for example judges, who have 
authority to decide some matters which the law is unable to determine, 
since no one doubts that the law would command and decide in the 
best manner whatever it could. But some things can, and other things 
cannot, be comprehended under the law, and this is the origin of the 
nexted question whether the best law or the best man should rule. 
For matters of detail about which men deliberate cannot be included in 
legislation. Nor does any one deny that the decision of such matters 
must be left to man, but it is argued that there should be many 
judges, and not one only. For every ruler who has been trained by 
the law judges well; and it would surely seem strange that a person 
should see better with two eyes, or hear better with two ears, or 
act better with two hands or feet, than many with many; indeed, it 
is already the practice of kings to make to themselves many eyes and 
ears and hands and feet. For they make colleagues of those who are the 
friends of themselves and their governments. They must be friends of 
the monarch and of his government; if not his friends, they will not 
do what he wants; but friendship implies likeness and equality; and, 

therefore, if he thinks that his friends ought to rule, he must 
think that those who are equal to himself and like himself ought to 
rule equally with himself. These are the principal controversies 
relating to monarchy. 


But may not all this be true in some cases and not in others? for 
there is by nature both a justice and an advantage appropriate to 
the rule of a master, another to kingly rule, another to 
constitutional rule; but there is none naturally appropriate to 
tyranny, or to any other perverted form of government; for these 
come into being contrary to nature. Now, to judge at least from what 
has been said, it is manifest that, where men are alike and equal, 
it is neither expedient nor just that one man should be lord of all, 
whether there are laws, or whether there are no laws, but he himself 
is in the place of law. Neither should a good man be lord over good 
men, nor a bad man over bad; nor, even if he excels in virtue, 
should he have a right to rule, unless in a particular case, at 
which I have already hinted, and to which I will once more recur. 
But first of all, I must determine what natures are suited for 
government by a king, and what for an aristocracy, and what for a 
constitutional government. 

A people who are by nature capable of producing a race superior in 
the virtue needed for political rule are fitted for kingly government; 
and a people submitting to be ruled as freemen by men whose virtue 
renders them capable of political command are adapted for an 
aristocracy; while the people who are suited for constitutional 
freedom are those among whom there naturally exists a warlike 
multitude able to rule and to obey in turn by a law which gives office 
to the well-to-do according to their desert. But when a whole family 
or some individual, happens to be so pre-eminent in virtue as to 
surpass all others, then it is just that they should be the royal 
family and supreme over all, or that this one citizen should be king 
of the whole nation. For, as I said before, to give them authority 
is not only agreeable to that ground of right which the founders of 
all states, whether aristocratical, or oligarchical, or again 
democratical, are accustomed to put forward (for these all recognize 
the claim of excellence, although not the same excellence) , but 
accords with the principle already laid down. For surely it would 
not be right to kill, or ostracize, or exile such a person, or require 
that he should take his turn in being governed. The whole is naturally 
superior to the part, and he who has this pre-eminence is in the 
relation of a whole to a part. But if so, the only alternative is that 
he should have the supreme power, and that mankind should obey him, 
not in turn, but always. These are the conclusions at which we 
arrive respecting royalty and its various forms, and this is the 
answer to the question, whether it is or is not advantageous to 
states, and to which, and how. 


We maintain that the true forms of government are three, and that 
the best must be that which is administered by the best, and in 
which there is one man, or a whole family, or many persons, 
excelling all the others together in virtue, and both rulers and 
subjects are fitted, the one to rule, the others to be ruled, in 
such a manner as to attain the most eligible life. We showed at the 
commencement of our inquiry that the virtue of the good man is 
necessarily the same as the virtue of the citizen of the perfect 
state. Clearly then in the same manner, and by the same means 
through which a man becomes truly good, he will frame a state that 
is to be ruled by an aristocracy or by a king, and the same 
education and the same habits will be found to make a good man and a 
man fit to be a statesman or a king. 

Having arrived at these conclusions, we must proceed to speak of the 

perfect state, and describe how it comes into being and is 


IN all arts and sciences which embrace the whole of any subject, and 
do not come into being in a fragmentary way, it is the province of a 
single art or science to consider all that appertains to a single 
subject. For example, the art of gymnastic considers not only the 
suitableness of different modes of training to different bodies (2), 
but what sort is absolutely the best (1); (for the absolutely best 
must suit that which is by nature best and best furnished with the 
means of life) , and also what common form of training is adapted to 
the great majority of men (4) . And if a man does not desire the best 
habit of body, or the greatest skill in gymnastics, which might be 
attained by him, still the trainer or the teacher of gymnastic 
should be able to impart any lower degree of either (3) . The same 
principle equally holds in medicine and shipbuilding, and the making 
of clothes, and in the arts generally. 

Hence it is obvious that government too is the subject of a single 
science, which has to consider what government is best and of what 
sort it must be, to be most in accordance with our aspirations, if 
there were no external impediment, and also what kind of government is 
adapted to particular states. For the best is often unattainable, 
and therefore the true legislator and statesman ought to be 
acquainted, not only with (1) that which is best in the abstract, 
but also with (2) that which is best relatively to circumstances. We 
should be able further to say how a state may be constituted under any 
given conditions (3); both how it is originally formed and, when 
formed, how it may be longest preserved; the supposed state being so 
far from having the best constitution that it is unprovided even 
with the conditions necessary for the best; neither is it the best 
under the circumstances, but of an inferior type. 

He ought, moreover, to know (4) the form of government which is best 
suited to states in general; for political writers, although they have 
excellent ideas, are often unpractical. We should consider, not only 
what form of government is best, but also what is possible and what is 
easily attainable by all. There are some who would have none but the 
most perfect; for this many natural advantages are required. Others, 
again, speak of a more attainable form, and, although they reject 
the constitution under which they are living, they extol some one in 
particular, for example the Lacedaemonian. Any change of government 
which has to be introduced should be one which men, starting from 
their existing constitutions, will be both willing and able to 
adopt, since there is quite as much trouble in the reformation of an 
old constitution as in the establishment of a new one, just as to 
unlearn is as hard as to learn. And therefore, in addition to the 
qualifications of the statesman already mentioned, he should be able 
to find remedies for the defects of existing constitutions, as has 
been said before. This he cannot do unless he knows how many forms 
of government there are. It is often supposed that there is only one 
kind of democracy and one of oligarchy. But this is a mistake; and, in 
order to avoid such mistakes, we must ascertain what differences there 
are in the constitutions of states, and in how many ways they are 
combined. The same political insight will enable a man to know which 
laws are the best, and which are suited to different constitutions; 
for the laws are, and ought to be, relative to the constitution, and 
not the constitution to the laws. A constitution is the organization 
of offices in a state, and determines what is to be the governing 
body, and what is the end of each community. But laws are not to be 
confounded with the principles of the constitution; they are the rules 
according to which the magistrates should administer the state, and 
proceed against offenders. So that we must know the varieties, and the 
number of varieties, of each form of government, if only with a view 

to making laws. For the same laws cannot be equally suited to all 
oligarchies or to all democracies, since there is certainly more 
than one form both of democracy and of oligarchy. 


In our original discussion about governments we divided them into 
three true forms: kingly rule, aristocracy, and constitutional 
government, and three corresponding perversions- tyranny, oligarchy, 
and democracy. Of kingly rule and of aristocracy, we have already 
spoken, for the inquiry into the perfect state is the same thing 
with the discussion of the two forms thus named, since both imply a 
principle of virtue provided with external means. We have already 
determined in what aristocracy and kingly rule differ from one 
another, and when the latter should be established. In what follows we 
have to describe the so-called constitutional government, which 
bears the common name of all constitutions, and the other forms, 
tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy. 

It is obvious which of the three perversions is the worst, and which 
is the next in badness. That which is the perversion of the first 
and most divine is necessarily the worst. And just as a royal rule, if 
not a mere name, must exist by virtue of some great personal 
superiority in the king, so tyranny, which is the worst of 
governments, is necessarily the farthest removed from a 
well-constituted form; oligarchy is little better, for it is a long 
way from aristocracy, and democracy is the most tolerable of the 
three . 

A writer who preceded me has already made these distinctions, but 
his point of view is not the same as mine. For he lays down the 
principle that when all the constitutions are good (the oligarchy 
and the rest being virtuous), democracy is the worst, but the best 
when all are bad. Whereas we maintain that they are in any case 
defective, and that one oligarchy is not to be accounted better than 
another, but only less bad. 

Not to pursue this question further at present, let us begin by 
determining (1) how many varieties of constitution there are (since of 
democracy and oligarchy there are several) : (2) what constitution is 
the most generally acceptable, and what is eligible in the next degree 
after the perfect state; and besides this what other there is which is 
aristocratical and well-constituted, and at the same time adapted to 
states in general; (3) of the other forms of government to whom each 
is suited. For democracy may meet the needs of some better than 
oligarchy, and conversely. In the next place (4) we have to consider 
in what manner a man ought to proceed who desires to establish some 
one among these various forms, whether of democracy or of oligarchy; 
and lastly, (5) having briefly discussed these subjects to the best of 
our power, we will endeavor to ascertain the modes of ruin and 
preservation both of constitutions generally and of each separately, 
and to what causes they are to be attributed. 


The reason why there are many forms of government is that every 
state contains many elements. In the first place we see that all 
states are made up of families, and in the multitude of citizen 
there must be some rich and some poor, and some in a middle condition; 
the rich are heavy-armed, and the poor not. Of the common people, some 
are husbandmen, and some traders, and some artisans. There are also 
among the notables differences of wealth and property- for example, in 
the number of horses which they keep, for they cannot afford to keep 
them unless they are rich. And therefore in old times the cities whose 
strength lay in their cavalry were oligarchies, and they used 
cavalry in wars against their neighbors; as was the practice of the 
Eretrians and Chalcidians, and also of the Magnesians on the river 
Maeander, and of other peoples in Asia. Besides differences of 
wealth there are differences of rank and merit, and there are some 

other elements which were mentioned by us when in treating of 
aristocracy we enumerated the essentials of a state. Of these 
elements, sometimes all, sometimes the lesser and sometimes the 
greater number, have a share in the government. It is evident then 
that there must be many forms of government, differing in kind, 
since the parts of which they are composed differ from each other in 
kind. For a constitution is an organization of offices, which all 
the citizens distribute among themselves, according to the power which 
different classes possess, for example the rich or the poor, or 
according to some principle of equality which includes both. There 
must therefore be as many forms of government as there are modes of 
arranging the offices, according to the superiorities and 
differences of the parts of the state. 

There are generally thought to be two principal forms: as men say of 
the winds that there are but two- north and south, and that the rest 
of them are only variations of these, so of governments there are said 
to be only two forms- democracy and oligarchy. For aristocracy is 
considered to be a kind of oligarchy, as being the rule of a few, 
and the so-called constitutional government to be really a 
democracy, just as among the winds we make the west a variation of the 
north, and the east of the south wind. Similarly of musical modes 
there are said to be two kinds, the Dorian and the Phrygian; the other 
arrangements of the scale are comprehended under one or other of these 
two. About forms of government this is a very favorite notion. But 
in either case the better and more exact way is to distinguish, as I 
have done, the one or two which are true forms, and to regard the 
others as perversions, whether of the most perfectly attempered mode 
or of the best form of government: we may compare the severer and more 
overpowering modes to the oligarchical forms, and the more relaxed and 
gentler ones to the democratic. 


It must not be assumed, as some are fond of saying, that democracy 
is simply that form of government in which the greater number are 
sovereign, for in oligarchies, and indeed in every government, the 
majority rules; nor again is oligarchy that form of government in 
which a few are sovereign. Suppose the whole population of a city to 
be 1300, and that of these 1000 are rich, and do not allow the 
remaining 300 who are poor, but free, and in an other respects their 
equals, a share of the government- no one will say that this is a 
democracy. In like manner, if the poor were few and the masters of the 
rich who outnumber them, no one would ever call such a government, 
in which the rich majority have no share of office, an oligarchy. 
Therefore we should rather say that democracy is the form of 
government in which the free are rulers, and oligarchy in which the 
rich; it is only an accident that the free are the many and the rich 
are the few. Otherwise a government in which the offices were given 
according to stature, as is said to be the case in Ethiopia, or 
according to beauty, would be an oligarchy; for the number of tall 
or good-looking men is small. And yet oligarchy and democracy are 
not sufficiently distinguished merely by these two characteristics 
of wealth and freedom. Both of them contain many other elements, and 
therefore we must carry our analysis further, and say that the 
government is not a democracy in which the freemen, being few in 
number, rule over the many who are not free, as at Apollonia, on the 
Ionian Gulf, and at Thera; (for in each of these states the nobles, 
who were also the earliest settlers, were held in chief honor, 
although they were but a few out of many) . Neither is it a democracy 
when the rich have the government because they exceed in number; as 
was the case formerly at Colophon, where the bulk of the inhabitants 
were possessed of large property before the Lydian War. But the form 
of government is a democracy when the free, who are also poor and 
the majority, govern, and an oligarchy when the rich and the noble 
govern, they being at the same time few in number. 

I have said that there are many forms of government, and have 
explained to what causes the variety is due. Why there are more than 
those already mentioned, and what they are, and whence they arise, I 
will now proceed to consider, starting from the principle already 
admitted, which is that every state consists, not of one, but of 
many parts. If we were going to speak of the different species of 
animals, we should first of all determine the organs which are 
indispensable to every animal, as for example some organs of sense and 
the instruments of receiving and digesting food, such as the mouth and 
the stomach, besides organs of locomotion. Assuming now that there are 
only so many kinds of organs, but that there may be differences in 
them- I mean different kinds of mouths, and stomachs, and perceptive 
and locomotive organs- the possible combinations of these 
differences will necessarily furnish many variedes of animals. (For 
animals cannot be the same which have different kinds of mouths or 
of ears.) And when all the combinations are exhausted, there will be 
as many sorts of animals as there are combinations of the necessary 
organs. The same, then, is true of the forms of government which 
have been described; states, as I have repeatedly said, are 
composed, not of one, but of many elements. One element is the 
food-producing class, who are called husbandmen; a second, the class 
of mechanics who practice the arts without which a city cannot 
exist; of these arts some are absolutely necessary, others 
contribute to luxury or to the grace of life. The third class is 
that of traders, and by traders I mean those who are engaged in buying 
and selling, whether in commerce or in retail trade. A fourth class is 
that of the serfs or laborers. The warriors make up the fifth class, 
and they are as necessary as any of the others, if the country is 
not to be the slave of every invader. For how can a state which has 
any title to the name be of a slavish nature? The state is independent 
and self-sufficing, but a slave is the reverse of independent. Hence 
we see that this subject, though ingeniously, has not been 
satisfactorily treated in the Republic. Socrates says that a state 
is made up of four sorts of people who are absolutely necessary; these 
are a weaver, a husbandman, a shoemaker, and a builder; afterwards, 
finding that they are not enough, he adds a smith, and again a 
herdsman, to look after the necessary animals; then a merchant, and 
then a retail trader. All these together form the complement of the 
first state, as if a state were established merely to supply the 
necessaries of life, rather than for the sake of the good, or stood 
equally in need of shoemakers and of husbandmen. But he does not admit 
into the state a military class until the country has increased in 
size, and is beginning to encroach on its neighbor's land, whereupon 
they go to war. Yet even amongst his four original citizens, or 
whatever be the number of those whom he associates in the state, there 
must be some one who will dispense justice and determine what is just. 
And as the soul may be said to be more truly part of an animal than 
the body, so the higher parts of states, that is to say, the warrior 
class, the class engaged in the administration of justice, and that 
engaged in deliberation, which is the special business of political 
common sense-these are more essential to the state than the parts 
which minister to the necessaries of life. Whether their several 
functions are the functions of different citizens, or of the same- for 
it may often happen that the same persons are both warriors and 
husbandmen- is immaterial to the argument. The higher as well as the 
lower elements are to be equally considered parts of the state, and if 
so, the military element at any rate must be included. There are 
also the wealthy who minister to the state with their property; 
these form the seventh class. The eighth class is that of 
magistrates and of officers; for the state cannot exist without 
rulers. And therefore some must be able to take office and to serve 
the state, either always or in turn. There only remains the class of 
those who deliberate and who judge between disputants; we were just 
now distinguishing them. If presence of all these elements, and 

their fair and equitable organization, is necessary to states, then 
there must also be persons who have the ability of statesmen. 
Different functions appear to be often combined in the same 
individual; for example, the warrior may also be a husbandman, or an 
artisan; or, again, the councillor a judge. And all claim to possess 
political ability, and think that they are quite competent to fill 
most offices. But the same persons cannot be rich and poor at the same 
time. For this reason the rich and the poor are regarded in an 
especial sense as parts of a state. Again, because the rich are 
generally few in number, while the poor are many, they appear to be 
antagonistic, and as the one or the other prevails they form the 
government. Hence arises the common opinion that there are two kinds 
of government- democracy and oligarchy. 

I have already explained that there are many forms of 
constitution, and to what causes the variety is due. Let me now show 
that there are different forms both of democracy and oligarchy, as 
will indeed be evident from what has preceded. For both in the 
common people and in the notables various classes are included; of the 
common people, one class are husbandmen, another artisans; another 
traders, who are employed in buying and selling; another are the 
seafaring class, whether engaged in war or in trade, as ferrymen or as 
fishermen. (In many places any one of these classes forms quite a 
large population; for example, fishermen at Tarentum and Byzantium, 
crews of triremes at Athens, merchant seamen at Aegina and Chios, 
ferrymen at Tenedos . ) To the classes already mentioned may be added 
day-laborers, and those who, owing to their needy circumstances, 
have no leisure, or those who are not of free birth on both sides; and 
there may be other classes as well. The notables again may be 
divided according to their wealth, birth, virtue, education, and 
similar differences. 

Of forms of democracy first comes that which is said to be based 
strictly on equality. In such a democracy the law says that it is just 
for the poor to have no more advantage than the rich; and that neither 
should be masters, but both equal. For if liberty and equality, as 
is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be 
best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the 
utmost. And since the people are the majority, and the opinion of 
the majority is decisive, such a government must necessarily be a 
democracy. Here then is one sort of democracy. There is another, in 
which the magistrates are elected according to a certain property 
qualification, but a low one; he who has the required amount of 
property has a share in the government, but he who loses his 
property loses his rights. Another kind is that in which all the 
citizens who are under no disqualification share in the government, 
but still the law is supreme. In another, everybody, if he be only a 
citizen, is admitted to the government, but the law is supreme as 
before. A fifth form of democracy, in other respects the same, is that 
in which, not the law, but the multitude, have the supreme power, 
and supersede the law by their decrees. This is a state of affairs 
brought about by the demagogues. For in democracies which are 
subject to the law the best citizens hold the first place, and there 
are no demagogues; but where the laws are not supreme, there 
demagogues spring up. For the people becomes a monarch, and is many in 
one; and the many have the power in their hands, not as individuals, 
but collectively. Homer says that 'it is not good to have a rule of 
many, ' but whether he means this corporate rule, or the rule of many 
individuals, is uncertain. At all events this sort of democracy, which 
is now a monarch, and no longer under the control of law, seeks to 
exercise monarchical sway, and grows into a despot; the flatterer is 
held in honor; this sort of democracy being relatively to other 
democracies what tyranny is to other forms of monarchy. The spirit 
of both is the same, and they alike exercise a despotic rule over 
the better citizens. The decrees of the demos correspond to the edicts 
of the tyrant; and the demagogue is to the one what the flatterer is 

to the other. Both have great power; the flatterer with the tyrant, 
the demagogue with democracies of the kind which we are describing. 
The demagogues make the decrees of the people override the laws, by 
referring all things to the popular assembly. And therefore they 
grow great, because the people have an things in their hands, and they 
hold in their hands the votes of the people, who are too ready to 
listen to them. Further, those who have any complaint to bring against 
the magistrates say, 'Let the people be judges'; the people are too 
happy to accept the invitation; and so the authority of every office 
is undermined. Such a democracy is fairly open to the objection that 
it is not a constitution at all; for where the laws have no authority, 
there is no constitution. The law ought to be supreme over all, and 
the magistracies should judge of particulars, and only this should 
be considered a constitution. So that if democracy be a real form of 
government, the sort of system in which all things are regulated by 
decrees is clearly not even a democracy in the true sense of the word, 
for decrees relate only to particulars. 

These then are the different kinds of democracy. 


Of oligarchies, too, there are different kinds: one where the 
property qualification for office is such that the poor, although they 
form the majority, have no share in the government, yet he who 
acquires a qualification may obtain a share. Another sort is when 
there is a qualification for office, but a high one, and the vacancies 
in the governing body are fired by co-optation. If the election is 
made out of all the qualified persons, a constitution of this kind 
inclines to an aristocracy, if out of a privileged class, to an 
oligarchy. Another sort of oligarchy is when the son succeeds the 
father. There is a fourth form, likewise hereditary, in which the 
magistrates are supreme and not the law. Among oligarchies this is 
what tyranny is among monarchies, and the last-mentioned form of 
democracy among democracies; and in fact this sort of oligarchy 
receives the name of a dynasty (or rule of powerful families) . 

These are the different sorts of oligarchies and democracies. It 
should, however, be remembered that in many states the constitution 
which is established by law, although not democratic, owing to the 
education and habits of the people may be administered democratically, 
and conversely in other states the established constitution may 
incline to democracy, but may be administered in an oligarchical 
spirit. This most often happens after a revolution: for governments do 
not change at once; at first the dominant party are content with 
encroaching a little upon their opponents. The laws which existed 
previously continue in force, but the authors of the revolution have 
the power in their hands. 


From what has been already said we may safely infer that there are 
so many different kinds of democracies and of oligarchies. For it is 
evident that either all the classes whom we mentioned must share in 
the government, or some only and not others. When the class of 
husbandmen and of those who possess moderate fortunes have the supreme 
power, the government is administered according to law. For the 
citizens being compelled to live by their labor have no leisure; and 
so they set up the authority of the law, and attend assemblies only 
when necessary. They all obtain a share in the government when they 
have acquired the qualification which is fixed by the law- the 
absolute exclusion of any class would be a step towards oligarchy; 
hence all who have acquired the property qualification are admitted to 
a share in the constitution. But leisure cannot be provided for them 
unless there are revenues to support them. This is one sort of 
democracy, and these are the causes which give birth to it. Another 
kind is based on the distinction which naturally comes next in 
order; in this, every one to whose birth there is no objection is 

eligible, but actually shares in the government only if he can find 
leisure. Hence in such a democracy the supreme power is vested in 
the laws, because the state has no means of paying the citizens. A 
third kind is when all freemen have a right to share in the 
government, but do not actually share, for the reason which has been 
already given; so that in this form again the law must rule. A 
fourth kind of democracy is that which comes latest in the history 
of states. In our own day, when cities have far outgrown their 
original size, and their revenues have increased, all the citizens 
have a place in the government, through the great preponderance of the 
multitude; and they all, including the poor who receive pay, and 
therefore have leisure to exercise their rights, share in the 
administration. Indeed, when they are paid, the common people have the 
most leisure, for they are not hindered by the care of their property, 
which often fetters the rich, who are thereby prevented from taking 
part in the assembly or in the courts, and so the state is governed by 
the poor, who are a majority, and not by the laws. 

So many kinds of democracies there are, and they grow out of these 
necessary causes. 

Of oligarchies, one form is that in which the majority of the 
citizens have some property, but not very much; and this is the 
first form, which allows to any one who obtains the required amount 
the right of sharing in the government. The sharers in the 
government being a numerous body, it follows that the law must govern, 
and not individuals. For in proportion as they are further removed 
from a monarchical form of government, and in respect of property have 
neither so much as to be able to live without attending to business, 
nor so little as to need state support, they must admit the rule of 
law and not claim to rule themselves. But if the men of property in 
the state are fewer than in the former case, and own more property, 
there arises a second form of oligarchy. For the stronger they are, 
the more power they claim, and having this object in view, they 
themselves select those of the other classes who are to be admitted to 
the government; but, not being as yet strong enough to rule without 
the law, they make the law represent their wishes. When this power 
is intensified by a further diminution of their numbers and increase 
of their property, there arises a third and further stage of 
oligarchy, in which the governing class keep the offices in their 
own hands, and the law ordains that the son shall succeed the 
father. When, again, the rulers have great wealth and numerous 
friends, this sort of family despotism approaches a monarchy; 
individuals rule and not the law. This is the fourth sort of 
oligarchy, and is analogous to the last sort of democracy. 


There are still two forms besides democracy and oligarchy; one of 
them is universally recognized and included among the four principal 
forms of government, which are said to be (1) monarchy, (2) oligarchy, 
(3) democracy, and (4) the so-called aristocracy or government of 
the best. But there is also a fifth, which retains the generic name of 
polity or constitutional government; this is not common, and therefore 
has not been noticed by writers who attempt to enumerate the different 
kinds of government; like Plato, in their books about the state, 
they recognize four only. The term 'aristocracy' is rightly applied to 
the form of government which is described in the first part of our 
treatise; for that only can be rightly called aristocracy which is a 
government formed of the best men absolutely, and not merely of men 
who are good when tried by any given standard. In the perfect state 
the good man is absolutely the same as the good citizen; whereas in 
other states the good citizen is only good relatively to his own 
form of government. But there are some states differing from 
oligarchies and also differing from the so-called polity or 
constitutional government; these are termed aristocracies, and in them 
the magistrates are certainly chosen, both according to their wealth 

and according to their merit. Such a form of government differs from 
each of the two just now mentioned, and is termed an aristocracy. 
For indeed in states which do not make virtue the aim of the 
community, men of merit and reputation for virtue may be found. And so 
where a government has regard to wealth, virtue, and numbers, as at 
Carthage, that is aristocracy; and also where it has regard only to 
two out of the three, as at Lacedaemon, to virtue and numbers, and the 
two principles of democracy and virtue temper each other. There are 
these two forms of aristocracy in addition to the first and perfect 
state, and there is a third form, viz., the constitutions which 
incline more than the so-called polity towards oligarchy. 


I have yet to speak of the so-called polity and of tyranny. I put 
them in this order, not because a polity or constitutional 
government is to be regarded as a perversion any more than the above 
mentioned aristocracies. The truth is, that they an fall short of 
the most perfect form of government, and so they are reckoned among 
perversions, and the really perverted forms are perversions of 
these, as I said in the original discussion. Last of all I will 
speak of tyranny, which I place last in the series because I am 
inquiring into the constitutions of states, and this is the very 
reverse of a constitution 

Having explained why I have adopted this order, I will proceed to 
consider constitutional government; of which the nature will be 
clearer now that oligarchy and democracy have been defined. For polity 
or constitutional government may be described generally as a fusion of 
oligarchy and democracy; but the term is usually applied to those 
forms of government which incline towards democracy, and the term 
aristocracy to those which incline towards oligarchy, because birth 
and education are commonly the accompaniments of wealth. Moreover, the 
rich already possess the external advantages the want of which is a 
temptation to crime, and hence they are called noblemen and gentlemen. 
And inasmuch as aristocracy seeks to give predominance to the best 
of the citizens, people say also of oligarchies that they are composed 
of noblemen and gentlemen. Now it appears to be an impossible thing 
that the state which is governed not by the best citizens but by the 
worst should be well-governed, and equally impossible that the state 
which is ill-governed should be governed by the best. But we must 
remember that good laws, if they are not obeyed, do not constitute 
good government. Hence there are two parts of good government; one 
is the actual obedience of citizens to the laws, the other part is the 
goodness of the laws which they obey; they may obey bad laws as well 
as good. And there may be a further subdivision; they may obey 
either the best laws which are attainable to them, or the best 

The distribution of offices according to merit is a special 
characteristic of aristocracy, for the principle of an aristocracy 
is virtue, as wealth is of an oligarchy, and freedom of a democracy. 
In all of them there of course exists the right of the majority, and 
whatever seems good to the majority of those who share in the 
government has authority. Now in most states the form called polity 
exists, for the fusion goes no further than the attempt to unite the 
freedom of the poor and the wealth of the rich, who commonly take 
the place of the noble. But as there are three grounds on which men 
claim an equal share in the government, freedom, wealth, and virtue 
(for the fourth or good birth is the result of the two last, being 
only ancient wealth and virtue) , it is clear that the admixture of the 
two elements, that is to say, of the rich and poor, is to be called 
a polity or constitutional government; and the union of the three is 
to be called aristocracy or the government of the best, and more 
than any other form of government, except the true and ideal, has a 
right to this name. 

Thus far I have shown the existence of forms of states other than 

monarchy, democracy, and oligarchy, and what they are, and in what 
aristocracies differ from one another, and polities from 
aristocracies- that the two latter are not very unlike is obvious. 


Next we have to consider how by the side of oligarchy and 
democracy the so-called polity or constitutional government springs 
up, and how it should be organized. The nature of it will be at once 
understood from a comparison of oligarchy and democracy; we must 
ascertain their different characteristics, and taking a portion from 
each, put the two together, like the parts of an indenture. Now 
there are three modes in which fusions of government may be 
affected. In the first mode we must combine the laws made by both 
governments, say concerning the administration of justice. In 
oligarchies they impose a fine on the rich if they do not serve as 
judges, and to the poor they give no pay; but in democracies they give 
pay to the poor and do not fine the rich. Now (1) the union of these 
two modes is a common or middle term between them, and is therefore 
characteristic of a constitutional government, for it is a combination 
of both. This is one mode of uniting the two elements. Or (2) a mean 
may be taken between the enactments of the two: thus democracies 
require no property qualification, or only a small one, from members 
of the assembly, oligarchies a high one; here neither of these is 
the common term, but a mean between them. (3) There is a third mode, 
in which something is borrowed from the oligarchical and something 
from the democratical principle. For example, the appointment of 
magistrates by lot is thought to be democratical, and the election 
of them oligarchical; democratical again when there is no property 
qualification, oligarchical when there is. In the aristocratical or 
constitutional state, one element will be taken from each- from 
oligarchy the principle of electing to offices, from democracy the 
disregard of qualification. Such are the various modes of combination. 

There is a true union of oligarchy and democracy when the same state 
may be termed either a democracy or an oligarchy; those who use both 
names evidently feel that the fusion is complete. Such a fusion there 
is also in the mean; for both extremes appear in it. The Lacedaemonian 
constitution, for example, is often described as a democracy, because 
it has many democratical features. In the first place the youth receive 
a democratical education. For the sons of the poor are brought up with 
with the sons of the rich, who are educated in such a manner as to make 
it possible for the sons of the poor to be educated by them. A similar 
equality prevails in the following period of life, and when the 
citizens are grown up to manhood the same rule is observed; there is 
no distinction between the rich and poor. In like manner they all have 
the same food at their public tables, and the rich wear only such 
clothing as any poor man can afford. Again, the people elect to one 
of the two greatest offices of state, and in the other they share; 
for they elect the Senators and share in the Ephoralty. By others the 
Spartan constitution is said to be an oligarchy, because it has many 
oligarchical elements. That all offices are filled by election and 
none by lot, is one of these oligarchical characteristics; that the 
power of inflicting death or banishment rests with a few persons is 
another; and there are others. In a well attempted polity there should 
appear to be both elements and yet neither; also the government should 
rely on itself, and not on foreign aid, and on itself not through the 
good will of a majority- they might be equally well-disposed when 
there is a vicious form of government- but through the general 
willingness of all classes in the state to maintain the constitution. 

Enough of the manner in which a constitutional government, and in 
which the so-called aristocracies ought to be framed. 


Of the nature of tyranny I have still to speak, in order that it may 
have its place in our inquiry (since even tyranny is reckoned by us to 

be a form of government) , although there is not much to be said 
about it. I have already in the former part of this treatise discussed 
royalty or kingship according to the most usual meaning of the term, 
and considered whether it is or is not advantageous to states, and 
what kind of royalty should be established, and from what source, 
and how. 

When speaking of royalty we also spoke of two forms of tyranny, 
which are both according to law, and therefore easily pass into 
royalty. Among barbarians there are elected monarchs who exercise a 
despotic power; despotic rulers were also elected in ancient Hellas, 
called Aesymnetes or Dictators. These monarchies, when compared with 
one another, exhibit certain differences. And they are, as I said 
before, royal, in so far as the monarch rules according to law over 
willing subjects; but they are tyrannical in so far as he is 
despotic and rules according to his own fancy. There is also a third 
kind of tyranny, which is the most typical form, and is the 
counterpart of the perfect monarchy. This tyranny is just that 
arbitrary power of an individual which is responsible to no one, and 
governs all alike, whether equals or better, with a view to its own 
advantage, not to that of its subjects, and therefore against their 
will. No freeman, if he can escape from it, will endure such a 
government . 

The kinds of tyranny are such and so many, and for the reasons which 
I have given . 


We have now to inquire what is the best constitution for most 
states, and the best life for most men, neither assuming a standard of 
virtue which is above ordinary persons, nor an education which is 
exceptionally favored by nature and circumstances, nor yet an ideal 
state which is an aspiration only, but having regard to the life in 
which the majority are able to share, and to the form of government 
which states in general can attain. As to those aristocracies, as they 
are called, of which we were just now speaking, they either lie beyond 
the possibilities of the greater number of states, or they approximate 
to the so-called constitutional government, and therefore need no 
separate discussion. And in fact the conclusion at which we arrive 
respecting all these forms rests upon the same grounds. For if what 
was said in the Ethics is true, that the happy life is the life 
according to virtue lived without impediment, and that virtue is a 
mean, then the life which is in a mean, and in a mean attainable by 
every one, must be the best. And the same the same principles of 
virtue and vice are characteristic of cities and of constitutions; for 
the constitution is in a figure the life of the city. 

Now in all states there are three elements: one class is very 
rich, another very poor, and a third in a mean. It is admitted that 
moderation and the mean are best, and therefore it will clearly be 
best to possess the gifts of fortune in moderation; for in that 
condition of life men are most ready to follow rational principle. But 
he who greatly excels in beauty, strength, birth, or wealth, or on the 
other hand who is very poor, or very weak, or very much disgraced, 
finds it difficult to follow rational principle. Of these two the 
one sort grow into violent and great criminals, the others into rogues 
and petty rascals. And two sorts of offenses correspond to them, the 
one committed from violence, the other from roguery. Again, the middle 
class is least likely to shrink from rule, or to be over-ambitious for 
it; both of which are injuries to the state. Again, those who have too 
much of the goods of fortune, strength, wealth, friends, and the like, 
are neither willing nor able to submit to authority. The evil begins 
at home; for when they are boys, by reason of the luxury in which they 
are brought up, they never learn, even at school, the habit of 
obedience. On the other hand, the very poor, who are in the opposite 
extreme, are too degraded. So that the one class cannot obey, and 
can only rule despotically; the other knows not how to command and 

must be ruled like slaves. Thus arises a city, not of freemen, but 
of masters and slaves, the one despising, the other envying; and 
nothing can be more fatal to friendship and good fellowship in 
states than this: for good fellowship springs from friendship; when 
men are at enmity with one another, they would rather not even share 
the same path. But a city ought to be composed, as far as possible, of 
equals and similars; and these are generally the middle classes. 
Wherefore the city which is composed of middle-class citizens is 
necessarily best constituted in respect of the elements of which we 
say the fabric of the state naturally consists. And this is the 
class of citizens which is most secure in a state, for they do not, 
like the poor, covet their neighbors' goods; nor do others covet 
theirs, as the poor covet the goods of the rich; and as they neither 
plot against others, nor are themselves plotted against, they pass 
through life safely. Wisely then did Phocylides pray- 'Many things are 
best in the mean; I desire to be of a middle condition in my city. ' 

Thus it is manifest that the best political community is formed by 
citizens of the middle class, and that those states are likely to be 
well-administered in which the middle class is large, and stronger 
if possible than both the other classes, or at any rate than either 
singly; for the addition of the middle class turns the scale, and 
prevents either of the extremes from being dominant. Great then is the 
good fortune of a state in which the citizens have a moderate and 
sufficient property; for where some possess much, and the others 
nothing, there may arise an extreme democracy, or a pure oligarchy; or 
a tyranny may grow out of either extreme- either out of the most 
rampant democracy, or out of an oligarchy; but it is not so likely 
to arise out of the middle constitutions and those akin to them. I 
will explain the reason of this hereafter, when I speak of the 
revolutions of states. The mean condition of states is clearly best, 
for no other is free from faction; and where the middle class is 
large, there are least likely to be factions and dissensions. For a 
similar reason large states are less liable to faction than small 
ones, because in them the middle class is large; whereas in small 
states it is easy to divide all the citizens into two classes who 
are either rich or poor, and to leave nothing in the middle. And 
democracies are safer and more permanent than oligarchies, because 
they have a middle class which is more numerous and has a greater 
share in the government; for when there is no middle class, and the 
poor greatly exceed in number, troubles arise, and the state soon 
comes to an end. A proof of the superiority of the middle dass is that 
the best legislators have been of a middle condition; for example, 
Solon, as his own verses testify; and Lycurgus, for he was not a king; 
and Charondas, and almost all legislators. 

These considerations will help us to understand why most governments 
are either democratical or oligarchical. The reason is that the middle 
class is seldom numerous in them, and whichever party, whether the 
rich or the common people, transgresses the mean and predominates, 
draws the constitution its own way, and thus arises either oligarchy 
or democracy. There is another reason- the poor and the rich quarrel 
with one another, and whichever side gets the better, instead of 
establishing a just or popular government, regards political supremacy 
as the prize of victory, and the one party sets up a democracy and the 
other an oligarchy. Further, both the parties which had the 
supremacy in Hellas looked only to the interest of their own form of 
government, and established in states, the one, democracies, and the 
other, oligarchies; they thought of their own advantage, of the public 
not at all. For these reasons the middle form of government has 
rarely, if ever, existed, and among a very few only. One man alone 
of all who ever ruled in Hellas was induced to give this middle 
constitution to states . But it has now become a habit among the 
citizens of states, not even to care about equality; all men are 
seeking for dominion, or, if conquered, are willing to submit. 

What then is the best form of government, and what makes it the 

best, is evident; and of other constitutions, since we say that 
there are many kinds of democracy and many of oligarchy, it is not 
difficult to see which has the first and which the second or any other 
place in the order of excellence, now that we have determined which is 
the best. For that which is nearest to the best must of necessity be 
better, and that which is furthest from it worse, if we are judging 
absolutely and not relatively to given conditions : I say ' relatively 
to given conditions, ' since a particular government may be preferable, 
but another form may be better for some people. 


We have now to consider what and what kind of government is suitable 
to what and what kind of men. I may begin by assuming, as a general 
principle common to all governments, that the portion of the state 
which desires the permanence of the constitution ought to be 
stronger than that which desires the reverse. Now every city is 
composed of quality and quantity. By quality I mean freedom, wealth, 
education, good birth, and by quantity, superiority of numbers. 
Quality may exist in one of the classes which make up the state, and 
quantity in the other. For example, the meanly-born may be more in 
number than the well-born, or the poor than the rich, yet they may not 
so much exceed in quantity as they fall short in quality; and 
therefore there must be a comparison of quantity and quality. Where 
the number of the poor is more than proportioned to the wealth of 
the rich, there will naturally be a democracy, varying in form with 
the sort of people who compose it in each case. If, for example, the 
husbandmen exceed in number, the first form of democracy will then 
arise; if the artisans and laboring class, the last; and so with the 
intermediate forms. But where the rich and the notables exceed in 
quality more than they fall short in quantity, there oligarchy arises, 
similarly assuming various forms according to the kind of 
superiority possessed by the oligarchs. 

The legislator should always include the middle class in his 
government; if he makes his laws oligarchical, to the middle class let 
him look; if he makes them democratical, he should equally by his laws 
try to attach this class to the state. There only can the government 
ever be stable where the middle class exceeds one or both of the 
others, and in that case there will be no fear that the rich will 
unite with the poor against the rulers. For neither of them will 
ever be willing to serve the other, and if they look for some form 
of government more suitable to both, they will find none better than 
this, for the rich and the poor will never consent to rule in turn, 
because they mistrust one another. The arbiter is always the one 
trusted, and he who is in the middle is an arbiter. The more perfect 
the admixture of the political elements, the more lasting will be 
the constitution. Many even of those who desire to form aristocratical 
governments make a mistake, not only in giving too much power to the 
rich, but in attempting to overreach the people. There comes a time 
when out of a false good there arises a true evil, since the 
encroachments of the rich are more destructive to the constitution 
than those of the people. 


The devices by which oligarchies deceive the people are five in 
number; they relate to (1) the assembly; (2) the magistracies; (3) the 
courts of law; (4) the use of arms; (5) gymnastic exercises. (1) The 
assemblies are thrown open to all, but either the rich only are 
fined for non-attendance, or a much larger fine is inflicted upon 
them. (2) to the magistracies, those who are qualified by property 
cannot decline office upon oath, but the poor may. (3) In the law 
courts the rich, and the rich only, are fined if they do not serve, 
the poor are let off with impunity, or, as in the laws of Charondas, a 
larger fine is inflicted on the rich, and a smaller one on the poor. 
In some states all citizen who have registered themselves are 

allowed to attend the assembly and to try causes; but if after 
registration they do not attend either in the assembly or at the 
courts, heavy fines are imposed upon them. The intention is that 
through fear of the fines they may avoid registering themselves, and 
then they cannot sit in the law-courts or in the assembly, 
concerning (4) the possession of arms, and (5) gymnastic exercises, 
they legislate in a similar spirit. For the poor are not obliged to 
have arms, but the rich are fined for not having them; and in like 
manner no penalty is inflicted on the poor for non-attendance at the 
gymnasium, and consequently, having nothing to fear, they do not 
attend, whereas the rich are liable to a fine, and therefore they take 
care to attend. 

These are the devices of oligarchical legislators, and in 
democracies they have counter devices. They pay the poor for attending 
the assemblies and the law-courts, and they inflict no penalty on 
the rich for non-attendance. It is obvious that he who would duly 
mix the two principles should combine the practice of both, and 
provide that the poor should be paid to attend, and the rich fined 
if they do not attend, for then all will take part; if there is no 
such combination, power will be in the hands of one party only. The 
government should be confined to those who carry arms. As to the 
property qualification, no absolute rule can be laid down, but we must 
see what is the highest qualification sufficiently comprehensive to 
secure that the number of those who have the rights of citizens 
exceeds the number of those excluded. Even if they have no share in 
office, the poor, provided only that they are not outraged or deprived 
of their property, will be quiet enough. 

But to secure gentle treatment for the poor is not an easy thing, 
since a ruling class is not always humane. And in time of war the poor 
are apt to hesitate unless they are fed; when fed, they are willing 
enough to fight. In some states the government is vested, not only 
in those who are actually serving, but also in those who have 
served; among the Malians, for example, the governing body consisted 
of the latter, while the magistrates were chosen from those actually 
on service. And the earliest government which existed among the 
Hellenes, after the overthrow of the kingly power, grew up out of 
the warrior class, and was originally taken from the knights (for 
strength and superiority in war at that time depended on cavalry; 
indeed, without discipline, infantry are useless, and in ancient times 
there was no military knowledge or tactics, and therefore the strength 
of armies lay in their cavalry) . But when cities increased and the 
heavy armed grew in strength, more had a share in the government; 
and this is the reason why the states which we call constitutional 
governments have been hitherto called democracies. Ancient 
constitutions, as might be expected, were oligarchical and royal; 
their population being small they had no considerable middle class; 
the people were weak in numbers and organization, and were therefore 
more contented to be governed. 

I have explained why there are various forms of government, and 
why there are more than is generally supposed; for democracy, as 
well as other constitutions, has more than one form: also what their 
differences are, and whence they arise, and what is the best form of 
government, speaking generally and to whom the various forms of 
government are best suited; all this has now been explained. 


Having thus gained an appropriate basis of discussion, we will 
proceed to speak of the points which follow next in order. We will 
consider the subject not only in general but with reference to 
particular constitutions. All constitutions have three elements, 
concerning which the good lawgiver has to regard what is expedient for 
each constitution. When they are well-ordered, the constitution is 
well-ordered, and as they differ from one another, constitutions 
differ. There is (1) one element which deliberates about public 

affairs; secondly (2) that concerned with the magistrates- the 
question being, what they should be, over what they should exercise 
authority, and what should be the mode of electing to them; and 
thirdly (3) that which has judicial power. 

The deliberative element has authority in matters of war and 
peace, in making and unmaking alliances; it passes laws, inflicts 
death, exile, confiscation, elects magistrates and audits their 
accounts. These powers must be assigned either all to all the citizens 
or an to some of them (for example, to one or more magistracies, or 
different causes to different magistracies), or some of them to all, 
and others of them only to some. That all things should be decided 
by all is characteristic of democracy; this is the sort of equality 
which the people desire. But there are various ways in which all may 
share in the government; they may deliberate, not all in one body, but 
by turns, as in the constitution of Telecles the Milesian. There are 
other constitutions in which the boards of magistrates meet and 
deliberate, but come into office by turns, and are elected out of 
the tribes and the very smallest divisions of the state, until every 
one has obtained office in his turn. The citizens, on the other 
hand, are assembled only for the purposes of legislation, and to 
consult about the constitution, and to hear the edicts of the 
magistrates. In another variety of democracy the citizen form one 
assembly, but meet only to elect magistrates, to pass laws, to 
advise about war and peace, and to make scrutinies. Other matters 
are referred severally to special magistrates, who are elected by vote 
or by lot out of all the citizens Or again, the citizens meet about 
election to offices and about scrutinies, and deliberate concerning 
war or alliances while other matters are administered by the 
magistrates, who, as far as is possible, are elected by vote. I am 
speaking of those magistracies in which special knowledge is required. 
A fourth form of democracy is when all the citizens meet to deliberate 
about everything, and the magistrates decide nothing, but only make 
the preliminary inquiries; and that is the way in which the last and 
worst form of democracy, corresponding, as we maintain, to the close 
family oligarchy and to tyranny, is at present administered. All these 
modes are democratical . 

On the other hand, that some should deliberate about all is 
oligarchical. This again is a mode which, like the democratical has 
many forms. When the deliberative class being elected out of those who 
have a moderate qualification are numerous and they respect and obey 
the prohibitions of the law without altering it, and any one who has 
the required qualification shares in the government, then, just 
because of this moderation, the oligarchy inclines towards polity. But 
when only selected individuals and not the whole people share in the 
deliberations of the state, then, although, as in the former case, 
they observe the law, the government is a pure oligarchy. Or, again, 
when those who have the power of deliberation are self-elected, and 
son succeeds father, and they and not the laws are supreme- the 
government is of necessity oligarchical. Where, again, particular 
persons have authority in particular matters- for example, when the 
whole people decide about peace and war and hold scrutinies, but the 
magistrates regulate everything else, and they are elected by vote- 
there the government is an aristocracy. And if some questions are 
decided by magistrates elected by vote, and others by magistrates 
elected by lot, either absolutely or out of select candidates, or 
elected partly by vote, partly by lot- these practices are partly 
characteristic of an aristocratical government, and party of a pure 
constitutional government. 

These are the various forms of the deliberative body; they 
correspond to the various forms of government. And the government of 
each state is administered according to one or other of the principles 
which have been laid down. Now it is for the interest of democracy, 
according to the most prevalent notion of it (I am speaking of that 
extreme form of democracy in which the people are supreme even over 

the laws), with a view to better deliberation to adopt the custom of 
oligarchies respecting courts of law. For in oligarchies the rich 
who are wanted to be judges are compelled to attend under pain of a 
fine, whereas in deinocracies the poor are paid to attend. And this 
practice of oligarchies should be adopted by democracies in their 
public assemblies, for they will advise better if they all 
deliberate together- the people with the notables and the notables 
with the people. It is also a good plan that those who deliberate 
should be elected by vote or by lot in equal numbers out of the 
different classes; and that if the people greatly exceed in number 
those who have political training, pay should not be given to all, but 
only to as many as would balance the number of the notables, or that 
the number in excess should be eliminated by lot. But in oligarchies 
either certain persons should be co-opted from the mass, or a class of 
officers should be appointed such as exist in some states who are 
termed probuli and guardians of the law; and the citizens should 
occupy themselves exclusively with matters on which these have 
previously deliberated; for so the people will have a share in the 
deliberations of the state, but will not be able to disturb the 
principles of the constitution. Again, in oligarchies either the 
people ought to accept the measures of the government, or not to 
pass anything contrary to them; or, if all are allowed to share in 
counsel, the decision should rest with the magistrates. The opposite 
of what is done in constitutional governments should be the rule in 
oligarchies; the veto of the majority should be final, their assent 
not final, but the proposal should be referred back to the 
magistrates. Whereas in constitutional governments they take the 
contrary course; the few have the negative, not the affirmative power; 
the affirmation of everything rests with the multitude. 

These, then, are our conclusions respecting the deliberative, that 
is, the supreme element in states. 


Next we will proceed to consider the distribution of offices; this 
too, being a part of politics concerning which many questions arise: 
What shall their number be? Over what shall they preside, and what 
shall be their duration? Sometimes they last for six months, sometimes 
for less; sometimes they are annual, while in other cases offices 
are held for still longer periods. Shall they be for life or for a 
long term of years; or, if for a short term only, shall the same 
persons hold them over and over again, or once only? Also about the 
appointment to them- from whom are they to be chosen, by whom, and 
how? We should first be in a position to say what are the possible 
varieties of them, and then we may proceed to determine which are 
suited to different forms of government. But what are to be included 
under the term 'offices'? That is a question not quite so easily 
answered. For a political community requires many officers; and not 
every one who is chosen by vote or by lot is to be regarded as a 
ruler. In the first place there are the priests, who must be 
distinguished from political officers; masters of choruses and 
heralds, even ambassadors, are elected by vote. Some duties of 
superintendence again are political, extending either to all the 
citizens in a single sphere of action, like the office of the 
general who superintends them when they are in the field, or to a 
section of them only, like the inspectorships of women or of youth. 
Other offices are concerned with household management, like that of 
the corn measurers who exist in many states and are elected 
officers. There are also menial offices which the rich have executed 
by their slaves. Speaking generally, those are to be called offices to 
which the duties are assigned of deliberating about certain measures 
and ofjudging and commanding, especially the last; for to command is 
the especial duty of a magistrate. But the question is not of any 
importance in practice; no one has ever brought into court the meaning 
of the word, although such problems have a speculative interest. 

What kinds of offices, and how many, are necessary to the 
existence of a state, and which, if not necessary, yet conduce to 
its well being are much more important considerations, affecting all 
constitutions, but more especially small states. For in great states 
it is possible, and indeed necessary, that every office should have 
a special function; where the citizens are numerous, many may hold 
office. And so it happens that some offices a man holds a second 
time only after a long interval, and others he holds once only; and 
certainly every work is better done which receives the sole, and not 
the divided attention of the worker. But in small states it is 
necessary to combine many offices in a few hands, since the small 
number of citizens does not admit of many holding office: for who will 
there be to succeed them? And yet small states at times require the 
same offices and laws as large ones; the difference is that the one 
want them often, the others only after long intervals. Hence there 
is no reason why the care of many offices should not be imposed on the 
same person, for they will not interfere with each other. When the 
population is small, offices should be like the spits which also serve 
to hold a lamp. We must first ascertain how many magistrates are 
necessary in every state, and also how many are not exactly necessary, 
but are nevertheless useful, and then there will be no difficulty in 
seeing what offices can be combined in one. We should also know over 
which matters several local tribunals are to have jurisdiction, and in 
which authority should be centralized: for example, should one 
person keep order in the market and another in some other place, or 
should the same person be responsible everywhere? Again, should 
offices be divided according to the subjects with which they deal, 
or according to the persons with whom they deal : I mean to say, should 
one person see to good order in general, or one look after the boys, 
another after the women, and so on? Further, under different 
constitutions, should the magistrates be the same or different? For 
example, in democracy, oligarchy, aristocracy, monarchy, should 
there be the same magistrates, although they are elected, not out of 
equal or similar classes of citizen but differently under different 
constitutions- in aristocracies, for example, they are chosen from the 
educated, in oligarchies from the wealthy, and in democracies from the 
free- or are there certain differences in the offices answering to 
them as well, and may the same be suitable to some, but different 
offices to others? For in some states it may be convenient that the 
same office should have a more extensive, in other states a narrower 
sphere. Special offices are peculiar to certain forms of government: 
for example that of probuli, which is not a democratic office, 
although a bule or council is. There must be some body of men whose 
duty is to prepare measures for the people in order that they may 
not be diverted from their business; when these are few in number, the 
state inclines to an oligarchy: or rather the probuli must always be 
few, and are therefore an oligarchical element. But when both 
institutions exist in a state, the probuli are a check on the council; 
for the counselors is a democratic element, but the probuli are 
oligarchical. Even the power of the council disappears when 
democracy has taken that extreme form in which the people themselves 
are always meeting and deliberating about everything. This is the case 
when the members of the assembly receive abundant pay; for they have 
nothing to do and are always holding assemblies and deciding 
everything for themselves. A magistracy which controls the boys or the 
women, or any similar office, is suited to an aristocracy rather 
than to a democracy; for how can the magistrates prevent the wives 
of the poor from going out of doors? Neither is it an oligarchical 
office; for the wives of the oligarchs are too fine to be controlled. 

Enough of these matters. I will now inquire into appointments to 
offices. The varieties depend on three terms, and the combinations 
of these give all possible modes: first, who appoints? secondly, 
from whom? and thirdly, how? Each of these three admits of three 
varieties: (A) All the citizens, or (B) only some, appoint. Either (1) 

the magistrates are chosen out of all or (2) out of some who are 
distinguished either by a property qualification, or by birth, or 
merit, or for some special reason, as at Megara only those were 
eligible who had returned from exile and fought together against the 
democracy. They may be appointed either (a) by vote or (b) by lot. 
Again, these several varieties may be coupled, I mean that (C) some 
officers may be elected by some, others by all, and (3) some again out 
of some, and others out of all, and (c) some by vote and others by 
lot. Each variety of these terms admits of four modes. 

For either (A 1 a) all may appoint from all by vote, or (A 1 b) 
all from all by lot, or (A 2 a) all from some by vote, or (A 2 b) 
all from some by lot (and from all, either by sections, as, for 
example, by tribes, and wards, and phratries, until all the citizens 
have been gone through; or the citizens may be in all cases eligible 
indiscriminately) ; or again (Ale, A 2 c) to some offices in the 
one way, to some in the other. Again, if it is only some that appoint, 
they may do so either (B 1 a) from all by vote, or (B 1 b) from all by 
lot, or (B 2 a) from some by vote, or (B 2 b) from some by lot, or 
to some offices in the one way, to others in the other, i.e., (B 1 
c) from all, to some offices by vote, to some by lot, and (B 2 C) from 
some, to some offices by vote, to some by lot. Thus the modes that 
arise, apart from two (C, 3) out of the three couplings, number 
twelve. Of these systems two are popular, that all should appoint from 
all (A 1 a) by vote or (A 1 b) by lot- or (A 1 c) by both. That all 
should not appoint at once, but should appoint from all or from some 
either by lot or by vote or by both, or appoint to some offices from 
all and to others from some ('by both' meaning to some offices by lot, 
to others by vote), is characteristic of a polity. And (B 1 c) that 
some should appoint from all, to some offices by vote, to others by 
lot, is also characteristic of a polity, but more oligarchical than 
the former method. And (A 3 a, b, c, B 3 a, b, c) to appoint from 
both, to some offices from all, to others from some, is characteristic 
of a polity with a leaning towards aristocracy. That (B 2) some should 
appoint from some is oligarchical- even (B 2 b) that some should 
appoint from some by lot (and if this does not actually occur, it is 
none the less oligarchical in character) , or (B 2 C) that some 
should appoint from some by both. (B 1 a) that some should appoint 
from all, and (A 2 a) that all should appoint from some, by vote, is 
aristocratic . 

These are the different modes of constituting magistrates, and these 
correspond to different forms of government: which are proper to 
which, or how they ought to be established, will be evident when we 
determine the nature of their powers. By powers I mean such powers 
as a magistrate exercises over the revenue or in defense of the 
country; for there are various kinds of power: the power of the 
general, for example, is not the same with that which regulates 
contracts in the market. 


Of the three parts of government, the judicial remains to be 
considered, and this we shall divide on the same principle. There 
are three points on which the variedes of law-courts depend: The 
persons from whom they are appointed, the matters with which they 
are concerned, and the manner of their appointment. I mean, (1) are 
the judges taken from all, or from some only? (2) how many kinds of 
law-courts are there? (3) are the judges chosen by vote or by lot? 

First, let me determine how many kinds of law-courts there are. 
There are eight in number: One is the court of audits or scrutinies; a 
second takes cognizance of ordinary offenses against the state; a 
third is concerned with treason against the constitution; the fourth 
determines disputes respecting penalties, whether raised by magistrates 
or by private persons; the fifth decides the more important civil 
cases; the sixth tries cases of homicide, which are of various kinds, 
(a) premeditated, (b) involuntary, (c) cases in which the guilt is 

confessed but the justice is disputed; and there may be a fourth court 
(d) in which murderers who have fled from justice are tried after 
their return; such as the Court of Phreatto is said to be at Athens. 
But cases of this sort rarely happen at all even in large cities. 
The different kinds of homicide may be tried either by the same or 
by different courts. (7) There are courts for strangers: of these 
there are two subdivisions, (a) for the settlement of their disputes 
with one another, (b) for the settlement of disputes between them and 
the citizens. And besides all these there must be (8) courts for small 
suits about sums of a drachma up to five drachmas, or a little more, 
which have to be determined, but they do not require many judges. 

Nothing more need be said of these small suits, nor of the courts 
for homicide and for strangers: I would rather speak of political 
cases, which, when mismanaged, create division and disturbances in 
constitutions . 

Now if all the citizens judge, in all the different cases which I 
have distinguished, they may be appointed by vote or by lot, or 
sometimes by lot and sometimes by vote. Or when a single class of 
causes are tried, the judges who decide them may be appointed, some by 
vote, and some by lot. These then are the four modes of appointing 
judges from the whole people, and there will be likewise four modes, 
if they are elected from a part only; for they may be appointed from 
some by vote and judge in all causes; or they may be appointed from 
some by lot and judge in all causes; or they may be elected in some 
cases by vote, and in some cases taken by lot, or some courts, even 
when judging the same causes, may be composed of members some 
appointed by vote and some by lot. These modes, then, as was said, 
answer to those previously mentioned. 

Once more, the modes of appointment may be combined; I mean, that 
some may be chosen out of the whole people, others out of some, some 
out of both; for example, the same tribunal may be composed of some 
who were elected out of all, and of others who were elected out of 
some, either by vote or by lot or by both. 

In how many forms law-courts can be established has now been 
considered. The first form, viz., that in which the judges are taken 
from all the citizens, and in which all causes are tried, is 
democratical ; the second, which is composed of a few only who try 
all causes, oligarchical; the third, in which some courts are taken 
from all classes, and some from certain classes only, aristocratical 
and constitutional . 


THE DESIGN which we proposed to ourselves is now nearly completed. 
Next in order follow the causes of revolution in states, how many, and 
of what nature they are; what modes of destruction apply to particular 
states, and out of what, and into what they mostly change; also what 
are the modes of preservation in states generally, or in a 
particular state, and by what means each state may be best 
preserved: these questions remain to be considered. 

In the first place we must assume as our starting-point that in 
the many forms of government which have sprung up there has always 
been an acknowledgment of justice and proportionate equality, although 
mankind fail attaining them, as I have already explained. Democracy, 
for example, arises out of the notion that those who are equal in 
any respect are equal in all respects; because men are equally free, 
they claim to be absolutely equal. Oligarchy is based on the notion 
that those who are unequal in one respect are in all respects unequal; 
being unequal, that is, in property, they suppose themselves to be 
unequal absolutely. The democrats think that as they are equal they 
ought to be equal in all things; while the oligarchs, under the idea 
that they are unequal, claim too much, which is one form of 
inequality. All these forms of government have a kind of justice, but, 
tried by an absolute standard, they are faulty; and, therefore, both 

parties, whenever their share in the government does not accord with 
their preconceived ideas, stir up revolution. Those who excel in 
virtue have the best right of all to rebel (for they alone can with 
reason be deemed absolutely unequal), but then they are of all men the 
least inclined to do so. There is also a superiority which is 
claimed by men of rank; for they are thought noble because they spring 
from wealthy and virtuous ancestors. Here then, so to speak, are 
opened the very springs and fountains of revolution; and hence arise 
two sorts of changes in governments; the one affecting the 
constitution, when men seek to change from an existing form into 
some other, for example, from democracy into oligarchy, and from 
oligarchy into democracy, or from either of them into constitutional 
government or aristocracy, and conversely; the other not affecting the 
constitution, when, without disturbing the form of government, whether 
oligarchy, or monarchy, or any other, they try to get the 
administration into their own hands. Further, there is a question of 
degree; an oligarchy, for example, may become more or less 
oligarchical, and a democracy more or less democratical; and in like 
manner the characteristics of the other forms of government may be 
more or less strictly maintained. Or the revolution may be directed 
against a portion of the constitution only, e.g., the establishment or 
overthrow of a particular office: as at Sparta it is said that 
Lysander attempted to overthrow the monarchy, and King Pausanias, 
the Ephoralty. At Epidamnus, too, the change was partial. For 
instead of phylarchs or heads of tribes, a council was appointed; 
but to this day the magistrates are the only members of the ruling 
class who are compelled to go to the Heliaea when an election takes 
place, and the office of the single archon was another oligarchical 
feature. Everywhere inequality is a cause of revolution, but an 
inequality in which there is no proportion- for instance, a 
perpetual monarchy among equals; and always it is the desire of 
equality which rises in rebellion. 

Now equality is of two kinds, numerical and proportional; by the 
first I mean sameness or equality in number or size; by the second, 
equality of ratios. For example, the excess of three over two is 
numerically equal to the excess of two over one; whereas four 
exceeds two in the same ratio in which two exceeds one, for two is the 
same part of four that one is of two, namely, the half. As I was 
saying before, men agree that justice in the abstract is proportion, 
but they differ in that some think that if they are equal in any 
respect they are equal absolutely, others that if they are unequal 
in any respect they should be unequal in all. Hence there are two 
principal forms of government, democracy and oligarchy; for good birth 
and virtue are rare, but wealth and numbers are more common. In what 
city shall we find a hundred persons of good birth and of virtue? 
whereas the rich everywhere abound. That a state should be ordered, 
simply and wholly, according to either kind of equality, is not a good 
thing; the proof is the fact that such forms of government never last. 
They are originally based on a mistake, and, as they begin badly, 
cannot fall to end badly. The inference is that both kinds of equality 
should be employed; numerical in some cases, and proportionate in 
others . 

Still democracy appears to be safer and less liable to revolution 
than oligarchy. For in oligarchies there is the double danger of the 
oligarchs falling out among themselves and also with the people; but 
in democracies there is only the danger of a quarrel with the 
oligarchs. No dissension worth mentioning arises among the people 
themselves. And we may further remark that a government which is 
composed of the middle class more nearly approximates to democracy 
than to oligarchy, and is the safest of the imperfect forms of 
government . 


In considering how dissensions and poltical revolutions arise, we 

must first of all ascertain the beginnings and causes of them which 
affect constitutions generally. They may be said to be three in 
number; and we have now to give an outline of each. We want to know 
(1) what is the feeling? (2) what are the motives of those who make 
them? (3) whence arise political disturbances and quarrels? The 
universal and chief cause of this revolutionary feeling has been 
already mentioned; viz., the desire of equality, when men think that 
they are equal to others who have more than themselves; or, again, the 
desire of inequality and superiority, when conceiving themselves to be 
superior they think that they have not more but the same or less 
than their inferiors; pretensions which may and may not be just. 
Inferiors revolt in order that they may be equal, and equals that they 
may be superior. Such is the state of mind which creates 
revolutions. The motives for making them are the desire of gain and 
honor, or the fear of dishonor and loss; the authors of them want to 
divert punishment or dishonor from themselves or their friends. The 
causes and reasons of revolutions, whereby men are themselves affected 
in the way described, and about the things which I have mentioned, 
viewed in one way may be regarded as seven, and in another as more 
than seven. Two of them have been already noticed; but they act in a 
different manner, for men are excited against one another by the 
love of gain and honor- not, as in the case which I have just 
supposed, in order to obtain them for themselves, but at seeing 
others, justly or unjustly, engrossing them. Other causes are 
insolence, fear, excessive predominance, contempt, disproportionate 
increase in some part of the state; causes of another sort are 
election intrigues, carelessness, neglect about trifles, dissimilarity 
of elements . 


What share insolence and avarice have in creating revolutions, and 
how they work, is plain enough. When the magistrates are insolent 
and grasping they conspire against one another and also against the 
constitution from which they derive their power, making their gains 
either at the expense of individuals or of the public. It is 
evident, again, what an influence honor exerts and how it is a cause 
of revolution. Men who are themselves dishonored and who see others 
obtaining honors rise in rebellion; the honor or dishonor when 
undeserved is unjust; and just when awarded according to merit. 

Again, superiority is a cause of revolution when one or more persons 
have a power which is too much for the state and the power of the 
government; this is a condition of affairs out of which there arises a 
monarchy, or a family oligarchy. And therefore, in some places, as 
at Athens and Argos, they have recourse to ostracism. But how much 
better to provide from the first that there should be no such 
pre-eminent individuals instead of letting them come into existence 
and then finding a remedy. 

Another cause of revolution is fear. Either men have committed 
wrong, and are afraid of punishment, or they are expecting to suffer 
wrong and are desirous of anticipating their enemy. Thus at Rhodes the 
notables conspired against the people through fear of the suits that 
were brought against them. Contempt is also a cause of insurrection 
and revolution; for example, in oligarchies- when those who have no 
share in the state are the majority, they revolt, because they think 
that they are the stronger. Or, again, in democracies, the rich 
despise the disorder and anarchy of the state; at Thebes, for example, 
where, after the battle of Oenophyta, the bad administration of the 
democracy led to its ruin. At Megara the fall of the democracy was due 
to a defeat occasioned by disorder and anarchy. And at Syracuse the 
democracy aroused contempt before the tyranny of Gelo arose; at 
Rhodes, before the insurrection. 

Political revolutions also spring from a disproportionate increase 
in any part of the state. For as a body is made up of many members, 
and every member ought to grow in proportion, that symmetry may be 

preserved; but loses its nature if the foot be four cubits long and 
the rest of the body two spans; and, should the abnormal increase be 
one of quality as well as of quantity, may even take the form of 
another animal: even so a state has many parts, of which some one 
may often grow imperceptibly; for example, the number of poor in 
democracies and in constitutional states. And this disproportion may 
sometimes happen by an accident, as at Tarentum, from a defeat in 
which many of the notables were slain in a battle with the Iapygians 
just after the Persian War, the constitutional government in 
consequence becoming a democracy; or as was the case at Argos, where 
the Argives, after their army had been cut to pieces on the seventh 
day of the month by Cleomenes the Lacedaemonian, were compelled to 
admit to citizen some of their Perioeci; and at Athens, when, after 
frequent defeats of their infantry at the time of the Peloponnesian 
War, the notables were reduced in number, because the soldiers had 
to be taken from the roll of citizens. Revolutions arise from this 
cause as well, in democracies as in other forms of government, but not 
to so great an extent. When the rich grow numerous or properties 
increase, the form of government changes into an oligarchy or a 
government of families. Forms of government also change- sometimes 
even without revolution, owing to election contests, as at Heraea 
(where, instead of electing their magistrates, they took them by 
lot, because the electors were in the habit of choosing their own 
partisans); or owing to carelessness, when disloyal persons are 
allowed to find their way into the highest offices, as at Oreum, 
where, upon the accession of Heracleodorus to office, the oligarchy 
was overthrown, and changed by him into a constitutional and 
democratical government. 

Again, the revolution may be facilitated by the slightness of the 
change; I mean that a great change may sometimes slip into the 
constitution through neglect of a small matter; at Ambracia, for 
instance, the qualification for office, small at first, was eventually 
reduced to nothing. For the Ambraciots thought that a small 
qualification was much the same as none at all. 

Another cause of revolution is difference of races which do not at 
once acquire a common spirit; for a state is not the growth of a 
day, any more than it grows out of a multitude brought together by 
accident. Hence the reception of strangers in colonies, either at 
the time of their foundation or afterwards, has generally produced 
revolution; for example, the Achaeans who joined the Troezenians in 
the foundation of Sybaris, becoming later the more numerous, 
expelled them; hence the curse fell upon Sybaris. At Thurii the 
Sybarites quarrelled with their fellow-colonists; thinking that the 
land belonged to them, they wanted too much of it and were driven out. 
At Byzantium the new colonists were detected in a conspiracy, and were 
expelled by force of arms; the people of Antissa, who had received the 
Chian exiles, fought with them, and drove them out; and the Zancleans, 
after having received the Samians, were driven by them out of their 
own city. The citizens of Apollonia on the Euxine, after the 
introduction of a fresh body of colonists, had a revolution; the 
Syracusans, after the expulsion of their tyrants, having admitted 
strangers and mercenaries to the rights of citizenship, quarrelled and 
came to blows; the people of Amphipolis, having received Chalcidian 
colonists, were nearly all expelled by them. 

Now, in oligarchies the masses make revolution under the idea that 
they are unjustly treated, because, as I said before, they are equals, 
and have not an equal share, and in democracies the notables revolt, 
because they are not equals, and yet have only an equal share. 

Again, the situation of cities is a cause of revolution when the 
country is not naturally adapted to preserve the unity of the state. 
For example, the Chytians at Clazomenae did not agree with the 
people of the island; and the people of Colophon quarrelled with the 
Notians; at Athens too, the inhabitants of the Piraeus are more 
democratic than those who live in the city. For just as in war the 

impediment of a ditch, though ever so small, may break a regiment, 
so every cause of difference, however slight, makes a breach in a 
city. The greatest opposition is confessedly that of virtue and 
vice; next comes that of wealth and poverty; and there are other 
antagonistic elements, greater or less, of which one is this 
difference of place. 


In revolutions the occasions may be trifling, but great interests 
are at stake. Even trifles are most important when they concern the 
rulers, as was the case of old at Syracuse; for the Syracusan 
constitution was once changed by a love-quarrel of two young men, 
who were in the government. The story is that while one of them was 
away from home his beloved was gained over by his companion, and he to 
revenge himself seduced the other's wife. They then drew the members 
of the ruling class into their quarrel and so split all the people 
into portions. We learn from this story that we should be on our guard 
against the beginnings of such evils, and should put an end to the 
quarrels of chiefs and mighty men. The mistake lies in the 
beginning- as the proverb says- 'Well begun is half done'; so an error 
at the beginning, though quite small, bears the same ratio to the 
errors in the other parts. In general, when the notables quarrel, 
the whole city is involved, as happened in Hesdaea after the Persian 
War. The occasion was the division of an inheritance; one of two 
brothers refused to give an account of their father's property and the 
treasure which he had found: so the poorer of the two quarrelled 
with him and enlisted in his cause the popular party, the other, who 
was very rich, the wealthy classes. 

At Delphi, again, a quarrel about a marriage was the beginning of 
all the troubles which followed. In this case the bridegroom, fancying 
some occurrence to be of evil omen, came to the bride, and went away 
without taking her. Whereupon her relations, thinking that they were 
insulted by him, put some of the sacred treasure among his offerings 
while he was sacrificing, and then slew him, pretending that he had 
been robbing the temple. At Mytilene, too, a dispute about heiresses 
was the beginning of many misfortunes, and led to the war with the 
Athenians in which Paches took their city. A wealthy citizen, named 
Timophanes, left two daughters; Dexander, another citizen, wanted to 
obtain them for his sons; but he was rejected in his suit, whereupon 
he stirred up a revolution, and instigated the Athenians (of whom he 
was proxenus) to interfere. A similar quarrel about an heiress arose 
at Phocis between Mnaseas the father of Mnason, and Euthycrates the 
father of Onomarchus; this was the beginning of the Sacred War. A 
marriage-quarrel was also the cause of a change in the government of 
Epidamnus . A certain man betrothed his daughter to a person whose 
father, having been made a magistrate, fined the father of the girl, 
and the latter, stung by the insult, conspired with the unenfranchised 
classes to overthrow the state. 

Governments also change into oligarchy or into democracy or into a 
constitutional government because the magistrates, or some other 
section of the state, increase in power or renown. Thus at Athens 
the reputation gained by the court of the Areopagus, in the Persian 
War, seemed to tighten the reins of government. On the other hand, the 
victory of Salamis, which was gained by the common people who served 
in the fleet, and won for the Athenians the empire due to command of 
the sea, strengthened the democracy. At Argos, the notables, having 
distinguished themselves against the Lacedaemonians in the battle of 
Mantinea, attempted to put down the democracy. At Syracuse, the 
people, having been the chief authors of the victory in the war with 
the Athenians, changed the constitutional government into democracy. 
At Chalcis, the people, uniting with the notables, killed Phoxus the 
tyrant, and then seized the government. At Ambracia, the people, in 
like manner, having joined with the conspirators in expelling the 
tyrant Periander, transferred the government to themselves. And 

generally it should be remembered that those who have secured power to 
the state, whether private citizens, or magistrates, or tribes, or any 
other part or section of the state, are apt to cause revolutions. 
For either envy of their greatness draws others into rebellion, or 
they themselves, in their pride of superiority, are unwilling to 
remain on a level with others . 

Revolutions also break out when opposite parties, e.g., the rich and 
the people, are equally balanced, and there is little or no middle 
class; for, if either party were manifestly superior, the other 
would not risk an attack upon them. And, for this reason, those who 
are eminent in virtue usually do not stir up insurrections, always 
being a minority. Such are the beginnings and causes of the 
disturbances and revolutions to which every form of government is 
liable . 

Revolutions are effected in two ways, by force and by fraud. Force 
may be applied either at the time of making the revolution or 
afterwards. Fraud, again, is of two kinds; for (1) sometimes the 
citizens are deceived into acquiescing in a change of government, 
and afterwards they are held in subjection against their will. This 
was what happened in the case of the Four Hundred, who deceived the 
people by telling them that the king would provide money for the war 
against the Lacedaemonians, and, having cheated the people, still 
endeavored to retain the government. (2) In other cases the people are 
persuaded at first, and afterwards, by a repetition of the persuasion, 
their goodwill and allegiance are retained. The revolutions which 
effect constitutions generally spring from the above-mentioned causes. 


And now, taking each constitution separately, we must see what 
follows from the principles already laid down. 

Revolutions in democracies are generally caused by the 
intemperance of demagogues, who either in their private capacity lay 
information against rich men until they compel them to combine (for 
a common danger unites even the bitterest enemies), or coming 
forward in public stir up the people against them. The truth of this 
remark is proved by a variety of examples. At Cos the democracy was 
overthrown because wicked demagogues arose, and the notables combined. 
At Rhodes the demagogues not only provided pay for the multitude, 
but prevented them from making good to the trierarchs the sums which 
had been expended by them; and they, in consequence of the suits which 
were brought against them, were compelled to combine and put down 
the democracy. The democracy at Heraclea was overthrown shortly 
after the foundation of the colony by the injustice of the demagogues, 
which drove out the notables, who came back in a body and put an end 
to the democracy. Much in the same manner the democracy at Megara 
was overturned; there the demagogues drove out many of the notables in 
order that they might be able to confiscate their property. At 
length the exiles, becoming numerous, returned, and, engaging and 
defeating the people, established the oligarchy. The same thing 
happened with the democracy of Cyme, which was overthrown by 
Thrasymachus . And we may observe that in most states the changes 
have been of this character. For sometimes the demagogues, in order to 
curry favor with the people, wrong the notables and so force them to 
combine; either they make a division of their property, or diminish 
their incomes by the imposition of public services, and sometimes they 
bring accusations against the rich that they may have their wealth 
to confiscate. 

Of old, the demagogue was also a general, and then democracies 
changed into tyrannies. Most of the ancient tyrants were originally 
demagogues. They are not so now, but they were then; and the reason is 
that they were generals and not orators, for oratory had not yet 
come into fashion. Whereas in our day, when the art of rhetoric has 
made such progress, the orators lead the people, but their ignorance 
of military matters prevents them from usurping power; at any rate 

instances to the contrary are few and slight. Tyrannies were more 
common formerly than now, for this reason also, that great power was 
placed in the hands of individuals; thus a tyranny arose at Miletus 
out of the office of the Prytanis, who had supreme authority in many 
important matters. Moreover, in those days, when cities were not 
large, the people dwelt in the fields, busy at their work; and their 
chiefs, if they possessed any military talent, seized the opportunity, 
and winning the confidence of the masses by professing their hatred of 
the wealthy, they succeeded in obtaining the tyranny. Thus at Athens 
Peisistratus led a faction against the men of the plain, and Theagenes 
at Megara slaughtered the cattle of the wealthy, which he found by the 
river side, where they had put them to graze in land not their own. 
Dionysius, again, was thought worthy of the tyranny because he 
denounced Daphnaeus and the rich; his enmity to the notables won for 
him the confidence of the people. Changes also take place from the 
ancient to the latest form of democracy; for where there is a 
popular election of the magistrates and no property qualification, the 
aspirants for office get hold of the people, and contrive at last even 
to set them above the laws. A more or less complete cure for this 
state of things is for the separate tribes, and not the whole 
people, to elect the magistrates. 

These are the principal causes of revolutions in democracies. 


There are two patent causes of revolutions in oligarchies: (1) 
First, when the oligarchs oppress the people, for then anybody is good 
enough to be their champion, especially if he be himself a member of 
the oligarchy, as Lygdamis at Naxos, who afterwards came to be tyrant. 
But revolutions which commence outside the governing class may be 
further subdivided. Sometimes, when the government is very 
exclusive, the revolution is brought about by persons of the wealthy 
class who are excluded, as happened at Massalia and Istros and 
Heraclea, and other cities. Those who had no share in the government 
created a disturbance, until first the elder brothers, and then the 
younger, were admitted; for in some places father and son, in others 
elder and younger brothers, do not hold office together. At Massalia 
the oligarchy became more like a constitutional government, but at 
Istros ended in a democracy, and at Heraclea was enlarged to 600. At 
Cnidos, again, the oligarchy underwent a considerable change. For 
the notables fell out among themselves, because only a few shared in 
the government; there existed among them the rule already mentioned, 
that father and son not hold office together, and, if there were 
several brothers, only the eldest was admitted. The people took 
advantage of the quarrel, and choosing one of the notables to be their 
leader, attacked and conquered the oligarchs, who were divided, and 
division is always a source of weakness. The city of Erythrae, too, in 
old times was ruled, and ruled well, by the Basilidae, but the 
people took offense at the narrowness of the oligarchy and changed the 
constitution . 

(2) Of internal causes of revolutions in oligarchies one is the 
personal rivalry of the oligarchs, which leads them to play the 
demagogue. Now, the oligarchical demagogue is of two sorts: either (a) 
he practices upon the oligarchs themselves (for, although the 
oligarchy are quite a small number, there may be a demagogue among 
them, as at Athens Charicles' party won power by courting the 
Thirty, that of Phrynichus by courting the Four Hundred) ; or (b) the 
oligarchs may play the demagogue with the people. This was the case at 
Larissa, where the guardians of the citizens endeavored to gain over 
the people because they were elected by them; and such is the fate 
of all oligarchies in which the magistrates are elected, as at Abydos, 
not by the class to which they belong, but by the heavy-armed or by 
the people, although they may be required to have a high 
qualification, or to be members of a political club; or, again, 
where the law-courts are composed of persons outside the government, 

the oligarchs flatter the people in order to obtain a decision in 
their own favor, and so they change the constitution; this happened at 
Heraclea in Pontus . Again, oligarchies change whenever any attempt 
is made to narrow them; for then those who desire equal rights are 
compelled to call in the people. Changes in the oligarchy also occur 
when the oligarchs waste their private property by extravagant living; 
for then they want to innovate, and either try to make themselves 
tyrants, or install some one else in the tyranny, as Hipparinus did 
Dionysius at Syracuse, and as at Amphipolis a man named Cleotimus 
introduced Chalcidian colonists, and when they arrived, stirred them 
up against the rich. For a like reason in Aegina the person who 
carried on the negotiation with Chares endeavored to revolutionize the 
state. Sometimes a party among the oligarchs try directly to create 
a political change; sometimes they rob the treasury, and then either 
the thieves or, as happened at Apollonia in Pontus, those who resist 
them in their thieving quarrel with the rulers. But an oligarchy which 
is at unity with itself is not easily destroyed from within; of this 
we may see an example at Pharsalus, for there, although the rulers are 
few in number, they govern a large city, because they have a good 
understanding among themselves . 

Oligarchies, again, are overthrown when another oligarchy is created 
within the original one, that is to say, when the whole governing body 
is small and yet they do not all share in the highest offices. Thus at 
Elis the governing body was a small senate; and very few ever found 
their way into it, because the senators were only ninety in number, 
and were elected for life and out of certain families in a manner 
similar to the Lacedaemonian elders. Oligarchy is liable to 
revolutions alike in war and in peace; in war because, not being 
able to trust the people, the oligarchs are compelled to hire 
mercenaries, and the general who is in command of them often ends in 
becoming a tyrant, as Timophanes did at Corinth; or if there are 
more generals than one they make themselves into a company of tyrants. 
Sometimes the oligarchs, fearing this danger, give the people a 
share in the government because their services are necessary to 
them. And in time of peace, from mutual distrust, the two parties hand 
over the defense of the state to the army and to an arbiter between 
the two factions, who often ends the master of both. This happened 
at Larissa when Simos the Aleuad had the government, and at Abydos 
in the days of Iphiades and the political clubs. Revolutions also 
arise out of marriages or lawsuits which lead to the overthrow of 
one party among the oligarchs by another. Of quarrels about 
marriages I have already mentioned some instances; another occurred at 
Eretria, where Diagoras overturned the oligarchy of the knights 
because he had been wronged about a marriage. A revolution at 
Heraclea, and another at Thebes, both arose out of decisions of 
law-courts upon a charge of adultery; in both cases the punishment was 
just, but executed in the spirit of party, at Heraclea upon 
Eurytion, and at Thebes upon Archias; for their enemies were jealous 
of them and so had them pilloried in the agora. Many oligarchies 
have been destroyed by some members of the ruling class taking offense 
at their excessive despotism; for example, the oligarchy at Cnidus and 
at Chios . 

Changes of constitutional governments, and also of oligarchies which 
limit the office of counselor, judge, or other magistrate to persons 
having a certain money qualification, often occur by accident. The 
qualification may have been originally fixed according to the 
circumstances of the time, in such a manner as to include in an 
oligarchy a few only, or in a constitutional government the middle 
class. But after a time of prosperity, whether arising from peace or 
some other good fortune, the same property becomes many times as 
valuable, and then everybody participates in every office; this 
happens sometimes gradually and insensibly, and sometimes quickly. 
These are the causes of changes and revolutions in oligarchies. 

We must remark generally both of democracies and oligarchies, that 

they sometimes change, not into the opposite forms of government, 
but only into another variety of the same class; I mean to say, from 
those forms of democracy and oligarchy which are regulated by law into 
those which are arbitrary, and conversely. 


In aristocracies revolutions are stirred up when a few only share in 
the honors of the state; a cause which has been already shown to 
affect oligarchies; for an aristocracy is a sort of oligarchy, and, 
like an oligarchy, is the government of a few, although few not for 
the same reason; hence the two are often confounded. And revolutions 
will be most likely to happen, and must happen, when the mass of the 
people are of the high-spirited kind, and have a notion that they 
are as good as their rulers. Thus at Lacedaemon the so-called 
Partheniae, who were the [illegitimate] sons of the Spartan peers, 
attempted a revolution, and, being detected, were sent away to 
colonize Tarentum. Again, revolutions occur when great men who are 
at least of equal merit are dishonored by those higher in office, as 
Lysander was by the kings of Sparta; or, when a brave man is 
excluded from the honors of the state, like Cinadon, who conspired 
against the Spartans in the reign of Agesilaus; or, again, when some 
are very poor and others very rich, a state of society which is most 
often the result of war, as at Lacedaemon in the days of the Messenian 
War; this is proved from the poem of Tyrtaeus, entitled 'Good 
Order'; for he speaks of certain citizens who were ruined by the war 
and wanted to have a redistribution of the land. Again, revolutions 
arise when an individual who is great, and might be greater, wants 
to rule alone, as, at Lacedaemon, Pausanias, who was general in the 
Persian War, or like Hanno at Carthage. 

Constitutional governments and aristocracies are commonly overthrown 
owing to some deviation from justice in the constitution itself; the 
cause of the downfall is, in the former, the ill-mingling of the two 
elements, democracy and oligarchy; in the latter, of the three 
elements, democracy, oligarchy, and virtue, but especially democracy 
and oligarchy. For to combine these is the endeavor of 
constitutional governments; and most of the so-called aristocracies 
have a like aim, but differ from polities in the mode of 
combination; hence some of them are more and some less permanent. 
Those which incline more to oligarchy are called aristocracies, and 
those which incline to democracy constitutional governments. And 
therefore the latter are the safer of the two; for the greater the 
number, the greater the strength, and when men are equal they are 
contented. But the rich, if the constitution gives them power, are apt 
to be insolent and avaricious; and, in general, whichever way the 
constitution inclines, in that direction it changes as either party 
gains strength, a constitutional government becoming a democracy, an 
aristocracy an oligarchy. But the process may be reversed, and 
aristocracy may change into democracy. This happens when the poor, 
under the idea that they are being wronged, force the constitution 
to take an opposite form. In like manner constitutional governments 
change into oligarchies. The only stable principle of government is 
equality according to proportion, and for every man to enjoy his own. 

What I have just mentioned actually happened at Thurii, where the 
qualification for office, at first high, was therefore reduced, and 
the magistrates increased in number. The notables had previously 
acquired the whole of the land contrary to law; for the government 
tended to oligarchy, and they were able to encroach. . . . But the 
people, who had been trained by war, soon got the better of the guards 
kept by the oligarchs, until those who had too much gave up their 

Again, since all aristocratical governments incline to oligarchy, 
the notables are apt to be grasping; thus at Lacedaemon, where 
property tends to pass into few hands, the notables can do too much as 
they like, and are allowed to marry whom they please. The city of 

Locri was ruined by a marriage connection with Dionysius, but such a 
thing could never have happened in a democracy, or in a wellbalanced 

I have already remarked that in all states revolutions are 
occasioned by trifles. In aristocracies, above all, they are of a 
gradual and imperceptible nature. The citizens begin by giving up some 
part of the constitution, and so with greater ease the government 
change something else which is a little more important, until they 
have undermined the whole fabric of the state. At Thurii there was a 
law that generals should only be re-elected after an interval of 
five years, and some young men who were popular with the soldiers of 
the guard for their military prowess, despising the magistrates and 
thinking that they would easily gain their purpose, wanted to 
abolish this law and allow their generals to hold perpetual 
commands; for they well knew that the people would be glad enough to 
elect them. Whereupon the magistrates who had charge of these matters, 
and who are called councillors, at first determined to resist, but 
they afterwards consented, thinking that, if only this one law was 
changed, no further inroad would be made on the constitution. But 
other changes soon followed which they in vain attempted to oppose; 
and the state passed into the hands of the revolutionists, who 
established a dynastic oligarchy. 

All constitutions are overthrown either from within or from without; 
the latter, when there is some government close at hand having an 
opposite interest, or at a distance, but powerful. This was 
exemplified in the old times of the Athenians and the 

Lacedaemonians; the Athenians everywhere put down the oligarchies, and 
the Lacedaemonians the democracies . 

I have now explained what are the chief causes of revolutions and 
dissensions in states. 


We have next to consider what means there are of preserving 
constitutions in general, and in particular cases. In the first 
place it is evident that if we know the causes which destroy 
constitutions, we also know the causes which preserve them; for 
opposites produce opposites, and destruction is the opposite of 
preservation . 

In all well-attempered governments there is nothing which should 
be more jealously maintained than the spirit of obedience to law, more 
especially in small matters; for transgression creeps in unperceived 
and at last ruins the state, just as the constant recurrence of 
small expenses in time eats up a fortune. The expense does not take 
place at once, and therefore is not observed; the mind is deceived, as 
in the fallacy which says that 'if each part is little, then the whole 
is little. ' this is true in one way, but not in another, for the whole 
and the all are not little, although they are made up of littles. 

In the first place, then, men should guard against the beginning 
of change, and in the second place they should not rely upon the 
political devices of which I have already spoken invented only to 
deceive the people, for they are proved by experience to be useless. 
Further, we note that oligarchies as well as aristocracies may last, 
not from any inherent stability in such forms of government, but 
because the rulers are on good terms both with the unenfranchised 
and with the governing classes, not maltreating any who are excluded 
from the government, but introducing into it the leading spirits among 
them. They should never wrong the ambitious in a matter of honor, or 
the common people in a matter of money; and they should treat one 
another and their fellow citizen in a spirit of equality. The equality 
which the friends of democracy seek to establish for the multitude 
is not only just but likewise expedient among equals. Hence, if the 
governing class are numerous, many democratic institutions are useful; 
for example, the restriction of the tenure of offices to six months, 
that all those who are of equal rank may share in them. Indeed, equals 

or peers when they are numerous become a kind of democracy, and 
therefore demagogues are very likely to arise among them, as I have 
already remarked. The short tenure of office prevents oligarchies 
and aristocracies from falling into the hands of families; it is not 
easy for a person to do any great harm when his tenure of office is 
short, whereas long possession begets tyranny in oligarchies and 
democracies. For the aspirants to tyranny are either the principal men 
of the state, who in democracies are demagogues and in oligarchies 
members of ruling houses, or those who hold great offices, and have 
a long tenure of them. 

Constitutions are preserved when their destroyers are at a distance, 
and sometimes also because they are near, for the fear of them makes 
the government keep in hand the constitution. Wherefore the ruler 
who has a care of the constitution should invent terrors, and bring 
distant dangers near, in order that the citizens may be on their 
guard, and, like sentinels in a night watch, never relax their 
attention. He should endeavor too by help of the laws to control the 
contentions and quarrels of the notables, and to prevent those who 
have not hitherto taken part in them from catching the spirit of 
contention. No ordinary man can discern the beginning of evil, but 
only the true statesman. 

As to the change produced in oligarchies and constitutional 
governments by the alteration of the qualification, when this 
arises, not out of any variation in the qualification but only out 
of the increase of money, it is well to compare the general 
valuation of property with that of past years, annually in those 
cities in which the census is taken annually and in larger cities 
every third or fifth year. If the whole is many times greater or 
many times less than when the ratings recognized by the constitution 
were fixed, there should be power given by law to raise or lower the 
qualification as the amount is greater or less. Where this is not done 
a constitutional government passes into an oligarchy, and an oligarchy 
is narrowed to a rule of families; or in the opposite case 
constitutional government becomes democracy, and oligarchy either 
constitutional government or democracy. 

It is a principle common to democracy, oligarchy, and every other 
form of government not to allow the disproportionate increase of any 
citizen but to give moderate honor for a long time rather than great 
honor for a short time. For men are easily spoilt; not every one can 
bear prosperity. But if this rule is not observed, at any rate the 
honors which are given all at once should be taken away by degrees and 
not all at once. Especially should the laws provide against any one 
having too much power, whether derived from friends or money; if he 
has, he should be sent clean out of the country. And since innovations 
creep in through the private life of individuals also, there ought 
to be a magistracy which will have an eye to those whose life is not 
in harmony with the government, whether oligarchy or democracy or 
any other. And for a like reason an increase of prosperity in any part 
of the state should be carefully watched. The proper remedy for this 
evil is always to give the management of affairs and offices of 
state to opposite elements; such opposites are the virtuous and the 
many, or the rich and the poor. Another way is to combine the poor and 
the rich in one body, or to increase the middle class: thus an end 
will be put to the revolutions which arise from inequality. 

But above all every state should be so administered and so regulated 
by law that its magistrates cannot possibly make money. In oligarchies 
special precautions should be used against this evil. For the people 
do not take any great offense at being kept out of the government- 
indeed they are rather pleased than otherwise at having leisure for 
their private business- but what irritates them is to think that their 
rulers are stealing the public money; then they are doubly annoyed; 
for they lose both honor and profit. If office brought no profit, then 
and then only could democracy and aristocracy be combined; for both 
notables and people might have their wishes gratified. All would be 

able to hold office, which is the aim of democracy, and the notables 
would be magistrates, which is the aim of aristocracy. And this result 
may be accomplished when there is no possibility of making money out 
of the offices; for the poor will not want to have them when there 
is nothing to be gained from them- they would rather be attending to 
their own concerns; and the rich, who do not want money from the 
public treasury, will be able to take them; and so the poor will 
keep to their work and grow rich, and the notables will not be 
governed by the lower class. In order to avoid peculation of the 
public money, the transfer of the revenue should be made at a 
general assembly of the citizens, and duplicates of the accounts 
deposited with the different brotherhoods, companies, and tribes. 
And honors should be given by law to magistrates who have the 
reputation of being incorruptible. In democracies the rich should be 
spared; not only should their property not be divided, but their 
incomes also, which in some states are taken from them 
imperceptibly, should be protected. It is a good thing to prevent 
the wealthy citizens, even if they are willing from undertaking 
expensive and useless public services, such as the giving of choruses, 
torch-races, and the like. In an oligarchy, on the other hand, great 
care should be taken of the poor, and lucrative offices should go to 
them; if any of the wealthy classes insult them, the offender should 
be punished more severely than if he had wronged one of his own class. 
Provision should be made that estates pass by inheritance and not by 
gift, and no person should have more than one inheritance; for in this 
way properties will be equalized, and more of the poor rise to 
competency. It is also expedient both in a democracy and in an 
oligarchy to assign to those who have less share in the government 
(i.e., to the rich in a democracy and to the poor in an oligarchy) 
an equality or preference in all but the principal offices of state. 
The latter should be entrusted chiefly or only to members of the 
governing class. 


There are three qualifications required in those who have to fill 
the highest offices- (1) first of all, loyalty to the established 
constitution; (2) the greatest administrative capacity; (3) virtue and 
justice of the kind proper to each form of government; for, if what is 
just is not the same in all governments, the quality of justice must 
also differ. There may be a doubt, however, when all these qualities 
do not meet in the same person, how the selection is to be made; 
suppose, for example, a good general is a bad man and not a friend 
to the constitution, and another man is loyal and just, which should 
we choose? In making the election ought we not to consider two points? 
what qualities are common, and what are rare. Thus in the choice of 
a general, we should regard his skill rather than his virtue; for 
few have military skill, but many have virtue. In any office of 
trust or stewardship, on the other hand, the opposite rule should be 
observed; for more virtue than ordinary is required in the holder of 
such an office, but the necessary knowledge is of a sort which all men 
possess . 

It may, however, be asked what a man wants with virtue if he have 
political ability and is loyal, since these two qualities alone will 
make him do what is for the public interest. But may not men have both 
of them and yet be deficient in self-control? If, knowing and loving 
their own interests, they do not always attend to them, may they not 
be equally negligent of the interests of the public? 

Speaking generally, we may say that whatever legal enactments are 
held to be for the interest of various constitutions, all these 
preserve them. And the great preserving principle is the one which has 
been repeatedly mentioned- to have a care that the loyal citizen 
should be stronger than the disloyal. Neither should we forget the 
mean, which at the present day is lost sight of in perverted forms 
of government; for many practices which appear to be democratical 

are the ruin of democracies, and many which appear to be 
oligarchical are the ruin of oligarchies. Those who think that all 
virtue is to be found in their own party principles push matters to 
extremes; they do not consider that disproportion destroys a state. 
A nose which varies from the ideal of straightness to a hook or snub 
may still be of good shape and agreeable to the eye; but if the excess 
be very great, all symmetry is lost, and the nose at last ceases to be 
a nose at all on account of some excess in one direction or defect 
in the other; and this is true of every other part of the human 
body. The same law of proportion equally holds in states. Oligarchy or 
democracy, although a departure from the most perfect form, may yet be 
a good enough government, but if any one attempts to push the 
principles of either to an extreme, he will begin by spoiling the 
government and end by having none at all. Wherefore the legislator and 
the statesman ought to know what democratical measures save and what 
destroy a democracy, and what oligarchical measures save or destroy an 
oligarchy. For neither the one nor the other can exist or continue 
to exist unless both rich and poor are included in it. If equality 
of property is introduced, the state must of necessity take another 
form; for when by laws carried to excess one or other element in the 
state is ruined, the constitution is ruined. 

There is an error common both to oligarchies and to democracies: 
in the latter the demagogues, when the multitude are above the law, 
are always cutting the city in two by quarrels with the rich, 
whereas they should always profess to be maintaining their cause; just 
as in oligarchies the oligarchs should profess to maintaining the 
cause of the people, and should take oaths the opposite of those which 
they now take. For there are cities in which they swear- 'I will be an 
enemy to the people, and will devise all the harm against them which I 
can'; but they ought to exhibit and to entertain the very opposite 
feeling; in the form of their oath there should be an express 
declaration- 'I will do no wrong to the people. ' 

But of all the things which I have mentioned that which most 
contributes to the permanence of constitutions is the adaptation of 
education to the form of government, and yet in our own day this 
principle is universally neglected. The best laws, though sanctioned 
by every citizen of the state, will be of no avail unless the young 
are trained by habit and education in the spirit of the 
constitution, if the laws are democratical, democratically or 
oligarchically, if the laws are oligarchical. For there may be a 
want of self-discipline in states as well as in individuals. Now, to 
have been educated in the spirit of the constitution is not to perform 
the actions in which oligarchs or democrats delight, but those by 
which the existence of an oligarchy or of a democracy is made 
possible. Whereas among ourselves the sons of the ruling class in an 
oligarchy live in luxury, but the sons of the poor are hardened by 
exercise and toil, and hence they are both more inclined and better 
able to make a revolution. And in democracies of the more extreme type 
there has arisen a false idea of freedom which is contradictory to the 
true interests of the state. For two principles are characteristic 
of democracy, the government of the majority and freedom. Men think 
that what is just is equal; and that equality is the supremacy of 
the popular will; and that freedom means the doing what a man likes. 
In such democracies every one lives as he pleases, or in the words 
of Euripides, 'according to his fancy. ' But this is all wrong; men 
should not think it slavery to live according to the rule of the 
constitution; for it is their salvation. 

I have now discussed generally the causes of the revolution and 
destruction of states, and the means of their preservation and 
continuance . 


I have still to speak of monarchy, and the causes of its destruction 
and preservation. What I have said already respecting forms of 

constitutional government applies almost equally to royal and to 
tyrannical rule. For royal rule is of the nature of an aristocracy, 
and a tyranny is a compound of oligarchy and democracy in their most 
extreme forms; it is therefore most injurious to its subjects, being 
made up of two evil forms of government, and having the perversions 
and errors of both. These two forms of monarchy are contrary in 
their very origin. The appointment of a king is the resource of the 
better classes against the people, and he is elected by them out of 
their own number, because either he himself or his family excel in 
virtue and virtuous actions; whereas a tyrant is chosen from the 
people to be their protector against the notables, and in order to 
prevent them from being injured. History shows that almost all tyrants 
have been demagogues who gained the favor of the people by their 
accusation of the notables. At any rate this was the manner in which 
the tyrannies arose in the days when cities had increased in power. 
Others which were older originated in the ambition of kings wanting to 
overstep the limits of their hereditary power and become despots. 
Others again grew out of the class which were chosen to be chief 
magistrates; for in ancient times the people who elected them gave the 
magistrates, whether civil or religious, a long tenure. Others arose 
out of the custom which oligarchies had of making some individual 
supreme over the highest offices. In any of these ways an ambitious 
man had no difficulty, if he desired, in creating a tyranny, since 
he had the power in his hands already, either as king or as one of the 
officers of state. Thus Pheidon at Argos and several others were 
originally kings, and ended by becoming tyrants; Phalaris, on the 
other hand, and the Ionian tyrants, acquired the tyranny by holding 
great offices. Whereas Panaetius at Leontini, Cypselus at Corinth, 
Peisistratus at Athens, Dionysius at Syracuse, and several others 
who afterwards became tyrants, were at first demagogues. 

And so, as I was saying, royalty ranks with aristocracy, for it is 
based upon merit, whether of the individual or of his family, or on 
benefits conferred, or on these claims with power added to them. For 
all who have obtained this honor have benefited, or had in their power 
to benefit, states and nations; some, like Codrus, have prevented 
the state from being enslaved in war; others, like Cyrus, have given 
their country freedom, or have settled or gained a territory, like the 
Lacedaemonian, Macedonian, and Molossian kings. The idea of a king 
is to be a protector of the rich against unjust treatment, of the 
people against insult and oppression. Whereas a tyrant, as has often 
been repeated, has no regard to any public interest, except as 
conducive to his private ends; his aim is pleasure, the aim of a king, 
honor. Wherefore also in their desires they differ; the tyrant is 
desirous of riches, the king, of what brings honor. And the guards 
of a king are citizens, but of a tyrant mercenaries. 

That tyranny has all the vices both of democracy and oligarchy is 
evident. As of oligarchy so of tyranny, the end is wealth; (for by 
wealth only can the tyrant maintain either his guard or his luxury) . 
Both mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms. 
Both agree too in injuring the people and driving them out of the city 
and dispersing them. From democracy tyrants have borrowed the art of 
making war upon the notables and destroying them secretly or openly, 
or of exiling them because they are rivals and stand in the way of 
their power; and also because plots against them are contrived by 
men of this dass, who either want to rule or to escape subjection. 
Hence Periander advised Thrasybulus by cutting off the tops of the 
tallest ears of corn, meaning that he must always put out of the way 
the citizens who overtop the rest. And so, as I have already 
intimated, the beginnings of change are the same in monarchies as in 
forms of constitutional government; subjects attack their sovereigns 
out of fear or contempt, or because they have been unjustly treated by 
them. And of injustice, the most common form is insult, another is 
confiscation of property. 

The ends sought by conspiracies against monarchies, whether 

tyrannies or royalties, are the same as the ends sought by 
conspiracies against other forms of government. Monarchs have great 
wealth and honor, which are objects of desire to all mankind. The 
attacks are made sometimes against their lives, sometimes against 
the office; where the sense of insult is the motive, against their 
lives. Any sort of insult (and there are many) may stir up anger, 
and when men are angry, they commonly act out of revenge, and not from 
ambition. For example, the attempt made upon the Peisistratidae 
arose out of the public dishonor offered to the sister of Harmodius 
and the insult to himself. He attacked the tyrant for his sister's 
sake, and Aristogeiton joined in the attack for the sake of Harmodius. 
A conspiracy was also formed against Periander, the tyrant of 
Ambracia, because, when drinking with a favorite youth, he asked him 
whether by this time he was not with child by him. Philip, too, was 
attacked by Pausanias because he permitted him to be insulted by 
Attalus and his friends, and Amyntas the little, by Derdas, because he 
boasted of having enjoyed his youth. Evagoras of Cyprus, again, was 
slain by the eunuch to revenge an insult; for his wife had been 
carried off by Evagoras ' s son. Many conspiracies have originated in 
shameful attempts made by sovereigns on the persons of their subjects. 
Such was the attack of Crataeas upon Archelaus; he had always hated 
the connection with him, and so, when Archelaus, having promised him 
one of his two daughters in marriage, did not give him either of them, 
but broke his word and married the elder to the king of Elymeia, 
when he was hard pressed in a war against Sirrhas and Arrhabaeus, 
and the younger to his own son Amyntas, under the idea that Amyntas 
would then be less likely to quarrel with his son by Cleopatra- 
Crataeas made this slight a pretext for attacking Archelaus, though 
even a less reason would have sufficed, for the real cause of the 
estrangement was the disgust which he felt at his connection with 
the king. And from a like motive Hellonocrates of Larissa conspired 
with him; for when Archelaus, who was his lover, did not fulfill his 
promise of restoring him to his country, he thought that the 
connection between them had originated, not in affection, but in the 
wantonness of power. Pytho, too, and Heracleides of Aenos, slew 
Cotys in order to avenge their father, and Adamas revolted from 
Cotys in revenge for the wanton outrage which he had committed in 
mutilating him when a child. 

Many, too, irritated at blows inflicted on the person which they 
deemed an insult, have either killed or attempted to kill officers 
of state and royal princes by whom they have been injured. Thus, at 
Mytilene, Megacles and his friends attacked and slew the 
Penthilidae, as they were going about and striking people with 
clubs. At a later date Smerdis, who had been beaten and torn away from 
his wife by Penthilus, slew him. In the conspiracy against 
Archelaus, Decamnichus stimulated the fury of the assassins and led 
the attack; he was enraged because Archelaus had delivered him to 
Euripides to be scourged; for the poet had been irritated at some 
remark made by Decamnichus on the foulness of his breath. Many other 
examples might be cited of murders and conspiracies which have 
arisen from similar causes. 

Fear is another motive which, as we have said, has caused 
conspiracies as well in monarchies as in more popular forms of 
government. Thus Artapanes conspired against Xerxes and slew him, 
fearing that he would be accused of hanging Darius against his 
orders-he having been under the impression that Xerxes would forget 
what he had said in the middle of a meal, and that the offense would 
be forgiven. 

Another motive is contempt, as in the case of Sardanapalus, whom 
some one saw carding wool with his women, if the storytellers say 
truly; and the tale may be true, if not of him, of some one else. Dion 
attacked the younger Dionysius because he despised him, and saw that 
he was equally despised by his own subjects, and that he was always 
drunk. Even the friends of a tyrant will sometimes attack him out of 

contempt; for the confidence which he reposes in them breeds contempt, 
and they think that they will not be found out. The expectation of 
success is likewise a sort of contempt; the assailants are ready to 
strike, and think nothing of the danger, because they seem to have the 
power in their hands. Thus generals of armies attack monarchs; as, for 
example, Cyrus attacked Astyages, despising the effeminacy of his 
life, and believing that his power was worn out. Thus again, Seuthes 
the Thracian conspired against Amadocus, whose general he was. 

And sometimes men are actuated by more than one motive, like 
Mithridates, who conspired against Ariobarzanes, partly out of 
contempt and partly from the love of gain. 

Bold natures, placed by their sovereigns in a high military 
position, are most likely to make the attempt in the expectation of 
success; for courage is emboldened by power, and the union of the 
two inspires them with the hope of an easy victory. 

Attempts of which the motive is ambition arise in a different way as 
well as in those already mentioned. There are men who will not risk 
their lives in the hope of gains and honors however great, but who 
nevertheless regard the killing of a tyrant simply as an extraordinary 
action which will make them famous and honorable in the world; they 
wish to acquire, not a kingdom, but a name. It is rare, however, to 
find such men; he who would kill a tyrant must be prepared to lose his 
life if he fail. He must have the resolution of Dion, who, when he 
made war upon Dionysius, took with him very few troops, saying 'that 
whatever measure of success he might attain would be enough for him, 
even if he were to die the moment he landed; such a death would be 
welcome to him. ' this is a temper to which few can attain. 

Once more, tyrannies, like all other governments, are destroyed from 
without by some opposite and more powerful form of government. That 
such a government will have the will to attack them is clear; for 
the two are opposed in principle; and all men, if they can, do what 
they will. Democracy is antagonistic to tyranny, on the principle of 
Hesiod, 'Potter hates Potter, ' because they are nearly akin, for the 
extreme form of democracy is tyranny; and royalty and aristocracy 
are both alike opposed to tyranny, because they are constitutions of a 
different type. And therefore the Lacedaemonians put down most of 
the tyrannies, and so did the Syracusans during the time when they 
were well governed. 

Again, tyrannies are destroyed from within, when the reigning family 
are divided among themselves, as that of Gelo was, and more recently 
that of Dionysius; in the case of Gelo because Thrasybulus, the 
brother of Hiero, flattered the son of Gelo and led him into 
excesses in order that he might rule in his name. Whereupon the family 
got together a party to get rid of Thrasybulus and save the tyranny; 
but those of the people who conspired with them seized the opportunity 
and drove them all out. In the case of Dionysius, Dion, his own 
relative, attacked and expelled him with the assistance of the people; 
he afterwards perished himself. 

There are two chief motives which induce men to attack tyrannies- 
hatred and contempt. Hatred of tyrants is inevitable, and contempt 
is also a frequent cause of their destruction. Thus we see that most 
of those who have acquired, have retained their power, but those who 
have inherited, have lost it, almost at once; for, living in luxurious 
ease, they have become contemptible, and offer many opportunities to 
their assailants. Anger, too, must be included under hatred, and 
produces the same effects. It is often times even more ready to 
strike- the angry are more impetuous in making an attack, for they 
do not follow rational principle. And men are very apt to give way 
to their passions when they are insulted. To this cause is to be 
attributed the fall of the Peisistratidae and of many others. Hatred 
is more reasonable, for anger is accompanied by pain, which is an 
impediment to reason, whereas hatred is painless. 

In a word, all the causes which I have mentioned as destroying the 
last and most unmixed form of oligarchy, and the extreme form of 

democracy, may be assumed to affect tyranny; indeed the extreme 
forms of both are only tyrannies distributed among several persons. 
Kingly rule is little affected by external causes, and is therefore 
lasting; it is generally destroyed from within. And there are two ways 
in which the destruction may come about; (1) when the members of the 
royal family quarrel among themselves, and (2) when the kings 
attempt to administer the state too much after the fashion of a 
tyranny, and to extend their authority contrary to the law. 
Royalties do not now come into existence; where such forms of 
government arise, they are rather monarchies or tyrannies. For the 
rule of a king is over voluntary subjects, and he is supreme in all 
important matters; but in our own day men are more upon an equality, 
and no one is so immeasurably superior to others as to represent 
adequately the greatness and dignity of the office. Hence mankind will 
not, if they can help, endure it, and any one who obtains power by 
force or fraud is at once thought to be a tyrant. In hereditary 
monarchies a further cause of destruction is the fact that kings often 
fall into contempt, and, although possessing not tyrannical power, but 
only royal dignity, are apt to outrage others. Their overthrow is then 
readily effected; for there is an end to the king when his subjects do 
not want to have him, but the tyrant lasts, whether they like him or 
not . 

The destruction of monarchies is to be attributed to these and the 
like causes. 


And they are preserved, to speak generally, by the opposite 
causes; or, if we consider them separately, (1) royalty is preserved 
by the limitation of its powers. The more restricted the functions 
of kings, the longer their power will last unimpaired; for then they 
are more moderate and not so despotic in their ways; and they are less 
envied by their subjects. This is the reason why the kingly office has 
lasted so long among the Molossians. And for a similar reason it has 
continued among the Lacedaemonians, because there it was always 
divided between two, and afterwards further limited by Theopompus in 
various respects, more particularly by the establishment of the 
Ephoralty. He diminished the power of the kings, but established on 
a more lasting basis the kingly office, which was thus made in a 
certain sense not less, but greater. There is a story that when his 
wife once asked him whether he was not ashamed to leave to his sons 
a royal power which was less than he had inherited from his father, 
'No indeed, ' he replied, 'for the power which I leave to them will 
be more lasting. ' 

As to (2) tyrannies, they are preserved in two most opposite ways. 
One of them is the old traditional method in which most tyrants 
administer their government. Of such arts Periander of Corinth is said 
to have been the great master, and many similar devices may be 
gathered from the Persians in the administration of their 
government. There are firstly the prescriptions mentioned some 
distance back, for the preservation of a tyranny, in so far as this is 
possible; viz., that the tyrant should lop off those who are too high; 
he must put to death men of spirit; he must not allow common meals, 
clubs, education, and the like; he must be upon his guard against 
anything which is likely to inspire either courage or confidence among 
his subjects; he must prohibit literary assemblies or other meetings 
for discussion, and he must take every means to prevent people from 
knowing one another (for acquaintance begets mutual confidence) . 
Further, he must compel all persons staying in the city to appear in 
public and live at his gates; then he will know what they are doing: 
if they are always kept under, they will learn to be humble. In short, 
he should practice these and the like Persian and barbaric arts, which 
all have the same object. A tyrant should also endeavor to know what 
each of his subjects says or does, and should employ spies, like the 
'female detectives' at Syracuse, and the eavesdroppers whom Hiero 

was in the habit of sending to any place of resort or meeting; for the 
fear of informers prevents people from speaking their minds, and if 
they do, they are more easily found out. Another art of the tyrant 
is to sow quarrels among the citizens; friends should be embroiled 
with friends, the people with the notables, and the rich with one 
another. Also he should impoverish his subjects; he thus provides 
against the maintenance of a guard by the citizen and the people, 
having to keep hard at work, are prevented from conspiring. The 
Pyramids of Egypt afford an example of this policy; also the offerings 
of the family of Cypselus, and the building of the temple of 
Olympian Zeus by the Peisistratidae, and the great Polycratean 
monuments at Samos; all these works were alike intended to occupy 
the people and keep them poor. Another practice of tyrants is to 
multiply taxes, after the manner of Dionysius at Syracuse, who 
contrived that within five years his subjects should bring into the 
treasury their whole property. The tyrant is also fond of making war 
in order that his subjects may have something to do and be always in 
want of a leader. And whereas the power of a king is preserved by 
his friends, the characteristic of a tyrant is to distrust his 
friends, because he knows that all men want to overthrow him, and they 
above all have the power. 

Again, the evil practices of the last and worst form of democracy 
are all found in tyrannies. Such are the power given to women in their 
families in the hope that they will inform against their husbands, and 
the license which is allowed to slaves in order that they may betray 
their masters; for slaves and women do not conspire against tyrants; 
and they are of course friendly to tyrannies and also to 
democracies, since under them they have a good time. For the people 
too would fain be a monarch, and therefore by them, as well as by 
the tyrant, the flatterer is held in honor; in democracies he is the 
demagogue; and the tyrant also has those who associate with him in a 
humble spirit, which is a work of flattery. 

Hence tyrants are always fond of bad men, because they love to be 
flattered, but no man who has the spirit of a freeman in him will 
lower himself by flattery; good men love others, or at any rate do not 
flatter them. Moreover, the bad are useful for bad purposes; 'nail 
knocks out nail, ' as the proverb says. It is characteristic of a 
tyrant to dislike every one who has dignity or independence; he 
wants to be alone in his glory, but any one who claims a like 
dignity or asserts his independence encroaches upon his prerogative, 
and is hated by him as an enemy to his power. Another mark of a tyrant 
is that he likes foreigners better than citizens, and lives with 
them and invites them to his table; for the one are enemies, but the 
Others enter into no rivalry with him. 

Such are the notes of the tyrant and the arts by which he 
preserves his power; there is no wickedness too great for him. All 
that we have said may be summed up under three heads, which answer 
to the three aims of the tyrant. These are, (1) the humiliation of his 
subjects; he knows that a mean-spirited man will not conspire 
against anybody; (2) the creation of mistrust among them; for a tyrant 
is not overthrown until men begin to have confidence in one another; 
and this is the reason why tyrants are at war with the good; they 
are under the idea that their power is endangered by them, not only 
because they would not be ruled despotically but also because they are 
loyal to one another, and to other men, and do not inform against 
one another or against other men; (3) the tyrant desires that his 
subjects shall be incapable of action, for no one attempts what is 
impossible, and they will not attempt to overthrow a tyranny, if 
they are powerless. Under these three heads the whole policy of a 
tyrant may be summed up, and to one or other of them all his ideas may 
be referred: (1) he sows distrust among his subjects; (2) he takes 
away their power; (3) he humbles them. 

This then is one of the two methods by which tyrannies are 
preserved; and there is another which proceeds upon an almost opposite 

principle of action. The nature of this latter method may be 
gathered from a comparison of the causes which destroy kingdoms, for 
as one mode of destroying kingly power is to make the office of king 
more tyrannical, so the salvation of a tyranny is to make it more like 
the rule of a king. But of one thing the tyrant must be careful; he 
must keep power enough to rule over his subjects, whether they like 
him or not, for if he once gives this up he gives up his tyranny. 
But though power must be retained as the foundation, in all else the 
tyrant should act or appear to act in the character of a king. In 
the first place he should pretend a care of the public revenues, and 
not waste money in making presents of a sort at which the common 
people get excited when they see their hard-won earnings snatched from 
them and lavished on courtesans and strangers and artists. He should 
give an account of what he receives and of what he spends (a 
practice which has been adopted by some tyrants); for then he will 
seem to be a steward of the public rather than a tyrant; nor need he 
fear that, while he is the lord of the city, he will ever be in want 
of money. Such a policy is at all events much more advantageous for 
the tyrant when he goes from home, than to leave behind him a hoard, 
for then the garrison who remain in the city will be less likely to 
attack his power; and a tyrant, when he is absent from home, has 
more reason to fear the guardians of his treasure than the citizens, 
for the one accompany him, but the others remain behind. In the second 
place, he should be seen to collect taxes and to require public 
services only for state purposes, and that he may form a fund in 
case of war, and generally he ought to make himself the guardian and 
treasurer of them, as if they belonged, not to him, but to the public. 
He should appear, not harsh, but dignified, and when men meet him they 
should look upon him with reverence, and not with fear. Yet it is hard 
for him to be respected if he inspires no respect, and therefore 
whatever virtues he may neglect, at least he should maintain the 
character of a great soldier, and produce the impression that he is 
one. Neither he nor any of his associates should ever be guilty of the 
least offense against modesty towards the young of either sex who 
are his subjects, and the women of his family should observe a like 
self-control towards other women; the insolence of women has ruined 
many tyrannies. In the indulgence of pleasures he should be the 
opposite of our modern tyrants, who not only begin at dawn and pass 
whole days in sensuality, but want other men to see them, that they 
may admire their happy and blessed lot. In these things a tyrant 
should if possible be moderate, or at any rate should not parade his 
vices to the world; for a drunken and drowsy tyrant is soon despised 
and attacked; not so he who is temperate and wide awake. His conduct 
should be the very reverse of nearly everything which has been said 
before about tyrants. He ought to adorn and improve his city, as 
though he were not a tyrant, but the guardian of the state. Also he 
should appear to be particularly earnest in the service of the Gods; 
for if men think that a ruler is religious and has a reverence for the 
Gods, they are less afraid of suffering injustice at his hands, and 
they are less disposed to conspire against him, because they believe 
him to have the very Gods fighting on his side. At the same time his 
religion must not be thought foolish. And he should honor men of 
merit, and make them think that they would not be held in more honor 
by the citizens if they had a free government. The honor he should 
distribute himself, but the punishment should be inflicted by officers 
and courts of law. It is a precaution which is taken by all monarchs 
not to make one person great; but if one, then two or more should be 
raised, that they may look sharply after one another. If after all 
some one has to be made great, he should not be a man of bold 
spirit; for such dispositions are ever most inclined to strike. And if 
any one is to be deprived of his power, let it be diminished 
gradually, not taken from him all at once. The tyrant should abstain 
from all outrage; in particular from personal violence and from wanton 
conduct towards the young. He should be especially careful of his 

behavior to men who are lovers of honor; for as the lovers of money 
are offended when their property is touched, so are the lovers of 
honor and the virtuous when their honor is affected. Therefore a 
tyrant ought either not to commit such acts at all; or he should be 
thought only to employ fatherly correction, and not to trample upon 
others- and his acquaintance with youth should be supposed to arise 
from affection, and not from the insolence of power, and in general he 
should compensate the appearance of dishonor by the increase of honor. 

Of those who attempt assassination they are the most dangerous, 
and require to be most carefully watched, who do not care to 
survive, if they effect their purpose. Therefore special precaution 
should be taken about any who think that either they or those for whom 
they care have been insulted; for when men are led away by passion 
to assault others they are regardless of themselves. As Heracleitus 
says, 'It is difficult to fight against anger; for a man will buy 
revenge with his soul.' 

And whereas states consist of two classes, of poor men and of 
rich, the tyrant should lead both to imagine that they are preserved 
and prevented from harming one another by his rule, and whichever of 
the two is stronger he should attach to his government; for, having 
this advantage, he has no need either to emancipate slaves or to 
disarm the citizens; either party added to the force which he 
already has, will make him stronger than his assailants. 

But enough of these details; what should be the general policy of 
the tyrant is obvious. He ought to show himself to his subjects in the 
light, not of a tyrant, but of a steward and a king. He should not 
appropriate what is theirs, but should be their guardian; he should be 
moderate, not extravagant in his way of life; he should win the 
notables by companionship, and the multitude by flattery. For then his 
rule will of necessity be nobler and happier, because he will rule 
over better men whose spirits are not crushed, over men to whom he 
himself is not an object of hatred, and of whom he is not afraid. 
His power too will be more lasting. His disposition will be 
virtuous, or at least half virtuous; and he will not be wicked, but 
half wicked only. 


Yet no forms of government are so short-lived as oligarchy and 
tyranny. The tyranny which lasted longest was that of Orthagoras and 
his sons at Sicyon; this continued for a hundred years. The reason was 
that they treated their subjects with moderation, and to a great 
extent observed the laws; and in various ways gained the favor of 
the people by the care which they took of them. Cleisthenes, in 
particular, was respected for his military ability. If report may be 
believed, he crowned the judge who decided against him in the games; 
and, as some say, the sitting statue in the Agora of Sicyon is the 
likeness of this person. (A similar story is told of Peisistratus, who 
is said on one occasion to have allowed himself to be summoned and 
tried before the Areopagus.) 

Next in duration to the tyranny of Orthagoras was that of the 
Cypselidae at Corinth, which lasted seventy-three years and six 
months: Cypselus reigned thirty years, Periander forty and a half, and 
Psammetichus the son of Gorgus three. Their continuance was due to 
similar causes: Cypselus was a popular man, who during the whole 
time of his rule never had a bodyguard; and Periander, although he was 
a tyrant, was a great soldier. Third in duration was the rule of the 
Peisistratidae at Athens, but it was interrupted; for Peisistratus was 
twice driven out, so that during three and thirty years he reigned 
only seventeen; and his sons reigned eighteen-altogether thirty-five 
years. Of other tyrannies, that of Hiero and Gelo at Syracuse was 
the most lasting. Even this, however, was short, not more than 
eighteen years in all; for Gelo continued tyrant for seven years, 
and died in the eighth; Hiero reigned for ten years, and Thrasybulus 
was driven out in the eleventh month. In fact, tyrannies generally 

have been of quite short duration. 

I have now gone through almost all the causes by which 
constitutional governments and monarchies are either destroyed or 
preserved . 

In the Republic of Plato, Socrates treats of revolutions, but not 
well, for he mentions no cause of change which peculiarly affects 
the first, or perfect state. He only says that the cause is that 
nothing is abiding, but all things change in a certain cycle; and that 
the origin of the change consists in those numbers 'of which 4 and 
3, married with 5, furnish two harmonies' (he means when the number of 
this figure becomes solid) ; he conceives that nature at certain 
times produces bad men who will not submit to education; in which 
latter particular he may very likely be not far wrong, for there may 
well be some men who cannot be educated and made virtuous. But why 
is such a cause of change peculiar to his ideal state, and not 
rather common to all states, nay, to everything which comes into being 
at all? And is it by the agency of time, which, as he declares, 
makes all things change, that things which did not begin together, 
change together? For example, if something has come into being the day 
before the completion of the cycle, will it change with things that 
came into being before? Further, why should the perfect state change 
into the Spartan? For governments more often take an opposite form 
than one akin to them. The same remark is applicable to the other 
changes; he says that the Spartan constitution changes into an 
oligarchy, and this into a democracy, and this again into a tyranny. 
And yet the contrary happens quite as often; for a democracy is even 
more likely to change into an oligarchy than into a monarchy. Further, 
he never says whether tyranny is, or is not, liable to revolutions, 
and if it is, what is the cause of them, or into what form it changes. 
And the reason is, that he could not very well have told: for there is 
no rule; according to him it should revert to the first and best, 
and then there would be a complete cycle. But in point of fact a 
tyranny often changes into a tyranny, as that at Sicyon changed from 
the tyranny of Myron into that of Cleisthenes; into oligarchy, as 
the tyranny of Antileon did at Chalcis; into democracy, as that of 
Gelo's family did at Syracuse; into aristocracy, as at Carthage, and 
the tyranny of Charilaus at Lacedaemon. Often an oligarchy changes 
into a tyranny, like most of the ancient oligarchies in Sicily; for 
example, the oligarchy at Leontini changed into the tyranny of 
Panaetius; that at Gela into the tyranny of Cleander; that at 
Rhegium into the tyranny of Anaxilaus; the same thing has happened 
in many other states. And it is absurd to suppose that the state 
changes into oligarchy merely because the ruling class are lovers 
and makers of money, and not because the very rich think it unfair 
that the very poor should have an equal share in the government with 
themselves. Moreover, in many oligarchies there are laws against 
making money in trade. But at Carthage, which is a democracy, there is 
no such prohibition; and yet to this day the Carthaginians have 
never had a revolution. It is absurd too for him to say that an 
oligarchy is two cities, one of the rich, and the other of the poor. 
Is not this just as much the case in the Spartan constitution, or in 
any other in which either all do not possess equal property, or all 
are not equally good men? Nobody need be any poorer than he was 
before, and yet the oligarchy may change an the same into a democracy, 
if the poor form the majority; and a democracy may change into an 
oligarchy, if the wealthy class are stronger than the people, and 
the one are energetic, the other indifferent. Once more, although 
the causes of the change are very numerous, he mentions only one, 
which is, that the citizens become poor through dissipation and 
debt, as though he thought that all, or the majority of them, were 
originally rich. This is not true: though it is true that when any 
of the leaders lose their property they are ripe for revolution; 
but, when anybody else, it is no great matter, and an oligarchy does 
not even then more often pass into a democracy than into any other 

form of government. Again, if men are deprived of the honors of state, 
and are wronged, and insulted, they make revolutions, and change forms 
of government, even although they have not wasted their substance 
because they might do what they liked- of which extravagance he 
declares excessive freedom to be the cause. 

Finally, although there are many forms of oligarchies and 
democracies, Socrates speaks of their revolutions as though there were 
only one form of either of them. 


WE have now considered the varieties of the deliberative or 
supreme power in states, and the various arrangements of law-courts 
and state offices, and which of them are adapted to different forms of 
government. We have also spoken of the destruction and preservation of 
constitutions, how and from what causes they arise. 

Of democracy and all other forms of government there are many kinds; 
and it will be well to assign to them severally the modes of 
organization which are proper and advantageous to each, adding what 
remains to be said about them. Moreover, we ought to consider the 
various combinations of these modes themselves; for such 
combinations make constitutions overlap one another, so that 
aristocracies have an oligarchical character, and constitutional 
governments incline to democracies. 

When I speak of the combinations which remain to be considered, 
and thus far have not been considered by us, I mean such as these: 
when the deliberative part of the government and the election of 
officers is constituted oligarchically, and the law-courts 
aristocratically, or when the courts and the deliberative part of 
the state are oligarchical, and the election to office aristocratical, 
or when in any other way there is a want of harmony in the composition 
of a state. 

I have shown already what forms of democracy are suited to 
particular cities, and what of oligarchy to particular peoples, and to 
whom each of the other forms of government is suited. Further, we must 
not only show which of these governments is the best for each state, 
but also briefly proceed to consider how these and other forms of 
government are to be established. 

First of all let us speak of democracy, which will also bring to 
light the opposite form of government commonly called oligarchy. For 
the purposes of this inquiry we need to ascertain all the elements and 
characteristics of democracy, since from the combinations of these the 
varieties of democratic government arise. There are several of these 
differing from each other, and the difference is due to two causes. 
One (1) has been already mentioned- differences of population; for the 
popular element may consist of husbandmen, or of mechanics, or of 
laborers, and if the first of these be added to the second, or the 
third to the two others, not only does the democracy become better 
or worse, but its very nature is changed. A second cause (2) remains 
to be mentioned: the various properties and characteristics of 
democracy, when variously combined, make a difference. For one 
democracy will have less and another will have more, and another 
will have all of these characteristics. There is an advantage in 
knowing them all, whether a man wishes to establish some new form of 
democracy, or only to remodel an existing one. Founders of states 
try to bring together all the elements which accord with the ideas 
of the several constitutions; but this is a mistake of theirs, as I 
have already remarked when speaking of the destruction and 
preservation of states. We will now set forth the principles, 
characteristics, and aims of such states. 


The basis of a democratic state is liberty; which, according to 
the common opinion of men, can only be enjoyed in such a state; this 

they affirm to be the great end of every democracy. One principle of 
liberty is for all to rule and be ruled in turn, and indeed democratic 
justice is the application of numerical not proportionate equality; 
whence it follows that the majority must be supreme, and that whatever 
the majority approve must be the end and the just. Every citizen, it 
is said, must have equality, and therefore in a democracy the poor 
have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the 
will of the majority is supreme. This, then, is one note of liberty 
which all democrats affirm to be the principle of their state. Another 
is that a man should live as he likes. This, they say, is the 
privilege of a freeman, since, on the other hand, not to live as a man 
likes is the mark of a slave. This is the second characteristic of 
democracy, whence has arisen the claim of men to be ruled by none, 
if possible, or, if this is impossible, to rule and be ruled in turns; 
and so it contributes to the freedom based upon equality. 

Such being our foundation and such the principle from which we 
start, the characteristics of democracy are as follows the election of 
officers by all out of all; and that all should rule over each, and 
each in his turn over all; that the appointment to all offices, or 
to all but those which require experience and skill, should be made by 
lot; that no property qualification should be required for offices, or 
only a very low one; that a man should not hold the same office twice, 
or not often, or in the case of few except military offices: that 
the tenure of all offices, or of as many as possible, should be brief, 
that all men should sit in judgment, or that judges selected out of 
all should judge, in all matters, or in most and in the greatest and 
most important- such as the scrutiny of accounts, the constitution, 
and private contracts; that the assembly should be supreme over all 
causes, or at any rate over the most important, and the magistrates 
over none or only over a very few. Of all magistracies, a council is 
the most democratic when there is not the means of paying all the 
citizens, but when they are paid even this is robbed of its power; for 
the people then draw all cases to themselves, as I said in the 
previous discussion. The next characteristic of democracy is payment 
for services; assembly, law courts, magistrates, everybody receives 
pay, when it is to be had; or when it is not to be had for all, then 
it is given to the law-courts and to the stated assemblies, to the 
council and to the magistrates, or at least to any of them who are 
compelled to have their meals together. And whereas oligarchy is 
characterized by birth, wealth, and education, the notes of 
democracy appear to be the opposite of these- low birth, poverty, mean 
employment. Another note is that no magistracy is perpetual, but if 
any such have survived some ancient change in the constitution it 
should be stripped of its power, and the holders should be elected 
by lot and no longer by vote. These are the points common to all 
democracies; but democracy and demos in their truest form are based 
upon the recognized principle of democratic justice, that all should 
count equally; for equality implies that the poor should have no 
more share in the government than the rich, and should not be the only 
rulers, but that all should rule equally according to their numbers. 
And in this way men think that they will secure equality and freedom 
in their state. 


Next comes the question, how is this equality to be obtained? Are we 
to assign to a thousand poor men the property qualifications of five 
hundred rich men? and shall we give the thousand a power equal to that 
of the five hundred? or, if this is not to be the mode, ought we, 
still retaining the same ratio, to take equal numbers from each and 
give them the control of the elections and of the courts?- Which, 
according to the democratical notion, is the juster form of the 
constitution- this or one based on numbers only? Democrats say that 
justice is that to which the majority agree, oligarchs that to which 
the wealthier class; in their opinion the decision should be given 

according to the amount of property. In both principles there is 
some inequality and injustice. For if justice is the will of the 
few, any one person who has more wealth than all the rest of the 
rich put together, ought, upon the oligarchical principle, to have the 
sole power- but this would be tyranny; or if justice is the will of 
the majority, as I was before saying, they will unjustly confiscate 
the property of the wealthy minority. To find a principle of 
equality which they both agree we must inquire into their respective 
ideas of justice. 

Now they agree in saying that whatever is decided by the majority of 
the citizens is to be deemed law. Granted: but not without some 
reserve; since there are two classes out of which a state is composed- 
the poor and the rich- that is to be deemed law, on which both or 
the greater part of both agree; and if they disagree, that which is 
approved by the greater number, and by those who have the higher 
qualification. For example, suppose that there are ten rich and twenty 
poor, and some measure is approved by six of the rich and is 
disapproved by fifteen of the poor, and the remaining four of the rich 
join with the party of the poor, and the remaining five of the poor 
with that of the rich; in such a case the will of those whose 
qualifications, when both sides are added up, are the greatest, should 
prevail. If they turn out to be equal, there is no greater 
difficulty than at present, when, if the assembly or the courts are 
divided, recourse is had to the lot, or to some similar expedient. 
But, although it may be difficult in theory to know what is just and 
equal, the practical difficulty of inducing those to forbear who 
can, if they like, encroach, is far greater, for the weaker are always 
asking for equality and justice, but the stronger care for none of 
these things . 


Of the four kinds of democracy, as was said in the in the previous 
discussion, the best is that which comes first in order; it is also 
the oldest of them all. I am speaking of them according to the natural 
classification of their inhabitants. For the best material of 
democracy is an agricultural population; there is no difficulty in 
forming a democracy where the mass of the people live by agriculture 
or tending of cattle. Being poor, they have no leisure, and 
therefore do not often attend the assembly, and not having the 
necessaries of life they are always at work, and do not covet the 
property of others. Indeed, they find their employment pleasanter than 
the cares of government or office where no great gains can be made out 
of them, for the many are more desirous of gain than of honor. A proof 
is that even the ancient tyrannies were patiently endured by them, 
as they still endure oligarchies, if they are allowed to work and 
are not deprived of their property; for some of them grow quickly rich 
and the others are well enough off. Moreover, they have the power of 
electing the magistrates and calling them to account; their 
ambition, if they have any, is thus satisfied; and in some 
democracies, although they do not all share in the appointment of 
offices, except through representatives elected in turn out of the 
whole people, as at Mantinea; yet, if they have the power of 
deliberating, the many are contented. Even this form of government may 
be regarded as a democracy, and was such at Mantinea. Hence it is both 
expedient and customary in the aforementioned type of democracy that 
all should elect to offices, and conduct scrutinies, and sit in the 
law-courts, but that the great offices should be filled up by election 
and from persons having a qualification; the greater requiring a 
greater qualification, or, if there be no offices for which a 
qualification is required, then those who are marked out by special 
ability should be appointed. Under such a form of government the 
citizens are sure to be governed well (for the offices will always 
be held by the best persons; the people are willing enough to elect 
them and are not jealous of the good) . The good and the notables 

will then be satisfied, for they will not be governed by men who are 
their inferiors, and the persons elected will rule justly, because 
others will call them to account. Every man should be responsible to 
others, nor should any one be allowed to do just as he pleases; for 
where absolute freedom is allowed, there is nothing to restrain the 
evil which is inherent in every man. But the principle of 
responsibility secures that which is the greatest good in states; 
the right persons rule and are prevented from doing wrong, and the 
people have their due. It is evident that this is the best kind of 
democracy, and why? Because the people are drawn from a certain class. 
Some of the ancient laws of most states were, all of them, useful with 
a view to making the people husbandmen. They provided either that no 
one should possess more than a certain quantity of land, or that, if 
he did, the land should not be within a certain distance from the town 
or the acropolis. Formerly in many states there was a law forbidding 
any one to sell his original allotment of land. There is a similar law 
attributed to Oxylus, which is to the effect that there should be a 
certain portion of every man's land on which he could not borrow 
money. A useful corrective to the evil of which I am speaking would be 
the law of the Aphytaeans, who, although they are numerous, and do not 
possess much land, are all of them husbandmen. For their properties 
are reckoned in the census; not entire, but only in such small 
portions that even the poor may have more than the amount required. 

Next best to an agricultural, and in many respects similar, are a 
pastoral people, who live by their flocks; they are the best trained 
of any for war, robust in body and able to camp out. The people of 
whom other democracies consist are far inferior to them, for their 
life is inferior; there is no room for moral excellence in any of 
their employments, whether they be mechanics or traders or laborers. 
Besides, people of this class can readily come to the assembly, 
because they are continually moving about in the city and in the 
agora; whereas husbandmen are scattered over the country and do not 
meet, or equally feel the want of assembling together. Where the 
territory also happens to extend to a distance from the city, there is 
no difficulty in making an excellent democracy or constitutional 
government; for the people are compelled to settle in the country, and 
even if there is a town population the assembly ought not to meet, 
in democracies, when the country people cannot come. We have thus 
explained how the first and best form of democracy should be 
constituted; it is clear that the other or inferior sorts will deviate 
in a regular order, and the population which is excluded will at 
each stage be of a lower kind. 

The last form of democracy, that in which all share alike, is one 
which cannot be borne by all states, and will not last long unless 
well regulated by laws and customs. The more general causes which tend 
to destroy this or other kinds of government have been pretty fully 
considered. In order to constitute such a democracy and strengthen the 
people, the leaders have been in the habit including as many as they 
can, and making citizens not only of those who are legitimate, but 
even of the illegitimate, and of those who have only one parent a 
citizen, whether father or mother; for nothing of this sort comes 
amiss to such a democracy. This is the way in which demagogues 
proceed. Whereas the right thing would be to make no more additions 
when the number of the commonalty exceeds that of the notables and 
of the middle class- beyond this not to go. When in excess of this 
point, the constitution becomes disorderly, and the notables grow 
excited and impatient of the democracy, as in the insurrection at 
Cyrene; for no notice is taken of a little evil, but when it increases 
it strikes the eye. Measures like those which Cleisthenes passed 
when he wanted to increase the power of the democracy at Athens, or 
such as were taken by the founders of popular government at Cyrene, 
are useful in the extreme form of democracy. Fresh tribes and 
brotherhoods should be established; the private rites of families 
should be restricted and converted into public ones; in short, every 

contrivance should be adopted which will mingle the citizens with 
one another and get rid of old connections. Again, the measures 
which are taken by tyrants appear all of them to be democratic- 
such, for instance, as the license permitted to slaves (which may be 
to a certain extent advantageous) and also that of women and children, 
and the af lowing everybody to live as he likes. Such a government will 
have many supporters, for most persons would rather live in a 
disorderly than in a sober manner. 


The mere establishment of a democracy is not the only or principal 
business of the legislator, or of those who wish to create such a 
state, for any state, however badly constituted, may last one, two, or 
three days; a far greater difficulty is the preservation of it. The 
legislator should therefore endeavor to have a firm foundation 
according to the principles already laid down concerning the 
preservation and destruction of states; he should guard against the 
destructive elements, and should make laws, whether written or 
unwritten, which will contain all the preservatives of states. He must 
not think the truly democratical or oligarchical measure to be that 
which will give the greatest amount of democracy or oligarchy, but 
that which will make them last longest. The demagogues of our own 
day often get property confiscated in the law-courts in order to 
please the people. But those who have the welfare of the state at 
heart should counteract them, and make a law that the property of 
the condemned should not be public and go into the treasury but be 
sacred. Thus offenders will be as much afraid, for they will be 
punished all the same, and the people, having nothing to gain, will 
not be so ready to condemn the accused. Care should also be taken that 
state trials are as few as possible, and heavy penalties should be 
inflicted on those who bring groundless accusations; for it is the 
practice to indict, not members of the popular party, but the 
notables, although the citizens ought to be all attached to the 
constitution as well, or at any rate should not regard their rulers as 
enemies . 

Now, since in the last and worst form of democracy the citizens 
are very numerous, and can hardly be made to assemble unless they 
are paid, and to pay them when there are no revenues presses hardly 
upon the notables (for the money must be obtained by a property tax 
and confiscations and corrupt practices of the courts, things which 
have before now overthrown many democracies); where, I say, there 
are no revenues, the government should hold few assemblies, and the 
law-courts should consist of many persons, but sit for a few days 
only. This system has two advantages: first, the rich do not fear 
the expense, even although they are unpaid themselves when the poor 
are paid; and secondly, causes are better tried, for wealthy 
persons, although they do not like to be long absent from their own 
affairs, do not mind going for a few days to the law-courts. Where 
there are revenues the demagogues should not be allowed after their 
manner to distribute the surplus; the poor are always receiving and 
always wanting more and more, for such help is like water poured 
into a leaky cask. Yet the true friend of the people should see that 
they be not too poor, for extreme poverty lowers the character of 
the democracy; measures therefore should be taken which will give them 
lasting prosperity; and as this is equally the interest of all 
classes, the proceeds of the public revenues should be accumulated and 
distributed among its poor, if possible, in such quantities as may 
enable them to purchase a little farm, or, at any rate, make a 
beginning in trade or husbandry. And if this benevolence cannot be 
extended to all, money should be distributed in turn according to 
tribes or other divisions, and in the meantime the rich should pay the 
fee for the attendance of the poor at the necessary assemblies; and 
should in return be excused from useless public services. By 
administering the state in this spirit the Carthaginians retain the 

affections of the people; their policy is from time to time to send 
some of them into their dependent towns, where they grow rich. It is 
also worthy of a generous and sensible nobility to divide the poor 
amongst them, and give them the means of going to work. The example of 
the people of Tarentum is also well deserving of imitation, for, by 
sharing the use of their own property with the poor, they gain their 
good will. Moreover, they divide all their offices into two classes, 
some of them being elected by vote, the others by lot; the latter, 
that the people may participate in them, and the former, that the 
state may be better administered. A like result may be gained by 
dividing the same offices, so as to have two classes of magistrates, 
one chosen by vote, the other by lot. 

Enough has been said of the manner in which democracies ought to 
be constituted. 


From these considerations there will be no difficulty in seeing what 
should be the constitution of oligarchies. We have only to reason from 
opposites and compare each form of oligarchy with the corresponding 
form of democracy. 

The first and best attempered of oligarchies is akin to a 
constitutional government. In this there ought to be two standards 
of qualification; the one high, the other low- the lower qualifying 
for the humbler yet indispensable offices and the higher for the 
superior ones. He who acquires the prescribed qualification should 
have the rights of citizenship. The number of those admitted should be 
such as will make the entire governing body stronger than those who 
are excluded, and the new citizen should be always taken out of the 
better class of the people. The principle, narrowed a little, gives 
another form of oligarchy; until at length we reach the most 
cliquish and tyrannical of them all, answering to the extreme 
democracy, which, being the worst, requires vigilance in proportion to 
its badness. For as healthy bodies and ships well provided with 
sailors may undergo many mishaps and survive them, whereas sickly 
constitutions and rotten ill-manned ships are ruined by the very least 
mistake, so do the worst forms of government require the greatest 
care. The populousness of democracies generally preserves them (for 
e state need not be much increased, since there is no necessity tha 
number is to democracy in the place of justice based on proportion); 
whereas the preservation of an oligarchy clearly depends on an 
opposite principle, viz., good order. 


As there are four chief divisions of the common people- 
husbandmen, mechanics, retail traders, laborers; so also there are 
four kinds of military forces- the cavalry, the heavy infantry, the 
light armed troops, the navy. When the country is adapted for cavalry, 
then a strong oligarchy is likely to be established. For the 
security of the inhabitants depends upon a force of this sort, and 
only rich men can afford to keep horses. The second form of 
oligarchy prevails when the country is adapted to heavy infantry; 
for this service is better suited to the rich than to the poor. But 
the light-armed and the naval element are wholly democratic; and 
nowadays, where they are numerous, if the two parties quarrel, the 
oligarchy are often worsted by them in the struggle. A remedy for this 
state of things may be found in the practice of generals who combine a 
proper contingent of light-armed troops with cavalry and 
heavy-armed. And this is the way in which the poor get the better of 
the rich in civil contests; being lightly armed, they fight with 
advantage against cavalry and heavy being lightly armed, they fight 
with advantage against cavalry and heavy infantry. An oligarchy 
which raises such a force out of the lower classes raises a power 
against itself. And therefore, since the ages of the citizens vary and 
some are older and some younger, the fathers should have their own 

sons, while they are still young, taught the agile movements of 
light-armed troops; and these, when they have been taken out of the 
ranks of the youth, should become light-armed warriors in reality. The 
oligarchy should also yield a share in the government to the people, 
either, as I said before, to those who have a property 
qualification, or, as in the case of Thebes, to those who have 
abstained for a certain number of years from mean employments, or, 
as at Massalia, to men of merit who are selected for their worthiness, 
whether previously citizens or not. The magistracies of the highest 
rank, which ought to be in the hands of the governing body, should 
have expensive duties attached to them, and then the people will not 
desire them and will take no offense at the privileges of their rulers 
when they see that they pay a heavy fine for their dignity. It is 
fitting also that the magistrates on entering office should offer 
magnificent sacrifices or erect some public edifice, and then the 
people who participate in the entertainments, and see the city 
decorated with votive offerings and buildings, will not desire an 
alteration in the government, and the notables will have memorials 
of their munificence. This, however, is anything but the fashion of 
our modern oligarchs, who are as covetous of gain as they are of 
honor; oligarchies like theirs may be well described as petty 
democracies. Enough of the manner in which democracies and oligarchies 
should be organized. 


Next in order follows the right distribution of offices, their 
number, their nature, their duties, of which indeed we have already 
spoken. No state can exist not having the necessary offices, and no 
state can be well administered not having the offices which tend to 
preserve harmony and good order. In small states, as we have already 
remarked, there must not be many of them, but in larger there must 
be a larger number, and we should carefully consider which offices may 
properly be united and which separated. 

First among necessary offices is that which has the care of the 
market; a magistrate should be appointed to inspect contracts and to 
maintain order. For in every state there must inevitably be buyers and 
sellers who will supply one another's wants; this is the readiest 
way to make a state self-sufficing and so fulfill the purpose for 
which men come together into one state. A second office of a similar 
kind undertakes the supervision and embellishment of public and 
private buildings, the maintaining and repairing of houses and 
roads, the prevention of disputes about boundaries, and other concerns 
of a like nature. This is commonly called the office of City Warden, 
and has various departments, which, in more populous towns, are shared 
among different persons, one, for example, taking charge of the walls, 
another of the fountains, a third of harbors. There is another equally 
necessary office, and of a similar kind, having to do with the same 
matters without the walls and in the country- the magistrates who hold 
this office are called Wardens of the country, or Inspectors of the 
woods. Besides these three there is a fourth office of receivers of 
taxes, who have under their charge the revenue which is distributed 
among the various departments; these are called Receivers or 
Treasurers. Another officer registers all private contracts, and 
decisions of the courts, all public indictments, and also all 
preliminary proceedings. This office again is sometimes subdivided, in 
which case one officer is appointed over all the rest. These 
officers are called Recorders or Sacred Recorders, Presidents, and the 

Next to these comes an office of which the duties are the most 
necessary and also the most difficult, viz., that to which is 
committed the execution of punishments, or the exaction of fines 
from those who are posted up according to the registers; and also 
the custody of prisoners. The difficulty of this office arises out 
of the odium which is attached to it; no one will undertake it 

unless great profits are to be made, and any one who does is loath 
to execute the law. Still the office is necessary; for judicial 
decisions are useless if they take no effect; and if society cannot 
exist without them, neither can it exist without the execution of 
them. It is an office which, being so unpopular, should not be 
entrusted to one person, but divided among several taken from 
different courts. In like manner an effort should be made to 
distribute among different persons the writing up of those who are 
on the register of public debtors. Some sentences should be executed 
by the magistrates also, and in particular penalties due to the 
outgoing magistrates should be exacted by the incoming ones; and as 
regards those due to magistrates already in office, when one court has 
given judgement, another should exact the penalty; for example, the 
wardens of the city should exact the fines imposed by the wardens of 
the agora, and others again should exact the fines imposed by them. 
For penalties are more likely to be exacted when less odium attaches 
to the exaction of them; but a double odium is incurred when the 
judges who have passed also execute the sentence, and if they are 
always the executioners, they will be the enemies of all. 

In many places, while one magistracy executes the sentence, 
another has the custody of the prisoners, as, for example, 'the 
Eleven' at Athens. It is well to separate off the jailorship also, and 
try by some device to render the office less unpopular. For it is 
quite as necessary as that of the executioners; but good men do all 
they can to avoid it, and worthless persons cannot safely be trusted 
with it; for they themselves require a guard, and are not fit to guard 
others. There ought not therefore to be a single or permanent 
officer set apart for this duty; but it should be entrusted to the 
young, wherever they are organized into a band or guard, and different 
magistrates acting in turn should take charge of it. 

These are the indispensable officers, and should be ranked first; 
next in order follow others, equally necessary, but of higher rank, 
and requiring great experience and fidelity. Such are the officers 
to which are committed the guard of the city, and other military 
functions. Not only in time of war but of peace their duty will be 
to defend the walls and gates, and to muster and marshal the citizens. 
In some states there are many such offices; in others there are a 
few only, while small states are content with one; these officers 
are called generals or commanders. Again, if a state has cavalry or 
light-armed troops or archers or a naval force, it will sometimes 
happen that each of these departments has separate officers, who are 
called admirals, or generals of cavalry or of light-armed troops. 
And there are subordinate officers called naval captains, and captains 
of light-armed troops and of horse; having others under them: all 
these are included in the department of war. Thus much of military 

But since many, not to say all, of these offices handle the public 
money, there must of necessity be another office which examines and 
audits them, and has no other functions. Such officers are called by 
various names- Scrutineers, Auditors, Accountants, Controllers. 
Besides all these offices there is another which is supreme over them, 
and to this is often entrusted both the introduction and the 
ratification of measures, or at all events it presides, in a 
democracy, over the assembly. For there must be a body which 
convenes the supreme authority in the state. In some places they are 
called 'probuli, ' because they hold previous deliberations, but in a 
democracy more commonly 'councillors.' These are the chief political 
offices . 

Another set of officers is concerned with the maintenance of 
religion priests and guardians see to the preservation and repair of 
the temples of the Gods and to other matters of religion. One office 
of this sort may be enough in small places, but in larger ones there 
are a great many besides the priesthood; for example, 
superintendents of public worship, guardians of shrines, treasurers of 

the sacred revenues. Nearly connected with these there are also the 
officers appointed for the performance of the public sacrifices, 
except any which the law assigns to the priests; such sacrifices 
derive their dignity from the public hearth of the city. They are 
sometimes called archons, sometimes kings, and sometimes prytanes . 

These, then, are the necessary offices, which may be summed up as 
follows: offices concerned with matters of religion, with war, with 
the revenue and expenditure, with the market, with the city, with 
the harbors, with the country; also with the courts of law, with the 
records of contracts, with execution of sentences, with custody of 
prisoners, with audits and scrutinies and accounts of magistrates; 
lastly, there are those which preside over the public deliberations of 
the state. There are likewise magistracies characteristic of states 
which are peaceful and prosperous, and at the same time have a 
regard to good order: such as the offices of guardians of women, 
guardians of the law, guardians of children, and directors of 
gymnastics; also superintendents of gymnastic and Dionysiac 
contests, and of other similar spectacles. Some of these are clearly 
not democratic offices; for example, the guardianships of women and 
children- the poor, not having any slaves, must employ both their 
women and children as servants. 

Once more: there are three offices according to whose directions the 
highest magistrates are chosen in certain states- guardians of the 
law, probuli, councillors- of these, the guardians of the law are an 
aristocratical, the probuli an oligarchical, the council a 
democratical institution. Enough of the different kinds of offices. 


HE who would duly inquire about the best form of a state ought first 
to determine which is the most eligible life; while this remains 
uncertain the best form of the state must also be uncertain; for, in 
the natural order of things, those may be expected to lead the best 
life who are governed in the best manner of which their 
circumstances admit. We ought therefore to ascertain, first of all, 
which is the most generally eligible life, and then whether the same 
life is or is not best for the state and for individuals. 

Assuming that enough has been already said in discussions outside 
the school concerning the best life, we will now only repeat what is 
contained in them. Certainly no one will dispute the propriety of that 
partition of goods which separates them into three classes, viz., 
external goods, goods of the body, and goods of the soul, or deny that 
the happy man must have all three. For no one would maintain that he 
is happy who has not in him a particle of courage or temperance or 
justice or prudence, who is afraid of every insect which flutters past 
him, and will commit any crime, however great, in order to gratify his 
lust of meat or drink, who will sacrifice his dearest friend for the 
sake of half-a-f arthing, and is as feeble and false in mind as a child 
or a madman. These propositions are almost universally acknowledged as 
soon as they are uttered, but men differ about the degree or 
relative superiority of this or that good. Some think that a very 
moderate amount of virtue is enough, but set no limit to their desires 
of wealth, property, power, reputation, and the like. To whom we reply 
by an appeal to facts, which easily prove that mankind do not 
acquire or preserve virtue by the help of external goods, but external 
goods by the help of virtue, and that happiness, whether consisting in 
pleasure or virtue, or both, is more often found with those who are 
most highly cultivated in their mind and in their character, and 
have only a moderate share of external goods, than among those who 
possess external goods to a useless extent but are deficient in higher 
qualities; and this is not only matter of experience, but, if 
reflected upon, will easily appear to be in accordance with reason. 
For, whereas external goods have a limit, like any other instrument, 
and all things useful are of such a nature that where there is tc 


much of them they must either do harm, or at any rate be of no use, to 
their possessors, every good of the soul, the greater it is, is also 
of greater use, if the epithet useful as well as noble is 
appropriate to such subjects. No proof is required to show that the 
best state of one thing in relation to another corresponds in degree 
of excellence to the interval between the natures of which we say that 
these very states are states: so that, if the soul is more noble 
than our possessions or our bodies, both absolutely and in relation to 
us, it must be admitted that the best state of either has a similar 
ratio to the other. Again, it is for the sake of the soul that goods 
external and goods of the body are eligible at all, and all wise men 
ought to choose them for the sake of the soul, and not the soul for 
the sake of them. 

Let us acknowledge then that each one has just so much of 
happiness as he has of virtue and wisdom, and of virtuous and wise 
action. God is a witness to us of this truth, for he is happy and 
blessed, not by reason of any external good, but in himself and by 
reason of his own nature. And herein of necessity lies the 
difference between good fortune and happiness; for external goods come 
of themselves, and chance is the author of them, but no one is just or 
temperate by or through chance. In like manner, and by a similar train 
of argument, the happy state may be shown to be that which is best and 
which acts rightly; and rightly it cannot act without doing right 
actions, and neither individual nor state can do right actions without 
virtue and wisdom. Thus the courage, justice, and wisdom of a state 
have the same form and nature as the qualities which give the 
individual who possesses them the name of just, wise, or temperate. 

Thus much may suffice by way of preface: for I could not avoid 
touching upon these questions, neither could I go through all the 
arguments affecting them; these are the business of another science. 

Let us assume then that the best life, both for individuals and 
states, is the life of virtue, when virtue has external goods enough 
for the performance of good actions. If there are any who controvert 
our assertion, we will in this treatise pass them over, and consider 
their objections hereafter. 


There remains to be discussed the question whether the happiness 
of the individual is the same as that of the state, or different. Here 
again there can be no doubt- no one denies that they are the same. For 
those who hold that the well-being of the individual consists in his 
wealth, also think that riches make the happiness of the whole 
state, and those who value most highly the life of a tyrant deem 
that city the happiest which rules over the greatest number; while 
they who approve an individual for his virtue say that the more 
virtuous a city is, the happier it is. Two points here present 
themselves for consideration: first (1), which is the more eligible 
life, that of a citizen who is a member of a state, or that of an 
alien who has no political ties; and again (2), which is the best form 
of constitution or the best condition of a state, either on the 
supposition that political privileges are desirable for all, or for 
a majority only? Since the good of the state and not of the individual 
is the proper subject of political thought and speculation, and we are 
engaged in a political discussion, while the first of these two points 
has a secondary interest for us, the latter will be the main subject 
of our inquiry. 

Now it is evident that the form of government is best in which every 
man, whoever he is, can act best and live happily. But even those 
who agree in thinking that the life of virtue is the most eligible 
raise a question, whether the life of business and politics is or is 
not more eligible than one which is wholly independent of external 
goods, I mean than a contemplative life, which by some is maintained 
to be the only one worthy of a philosopher. For these two lives- the 
life of the philosopher and the life of the statesman- appear to 

have been preferred by those who have been most keen in the pursuit of 
virtue, both in our own and in other ages. Which is the better is a 
question of no small moment; for the wise man, like the wise state, 
will necessarily regulate his life according to the best end. There 
are some who think that while a despotic rule over others is the 
greatest injustice, to exercise a constitutional rule over them, 
even though not unjust, is a great impediment to a man's individual 
wellbeing. Others take an opposite view; they maintain that the true 
life of man is the practical and political, and that every virtue 
admits of being practiced, quite as much by statesmen and rulers as by 
private individuals. Others, again, are of opinion that arbitrary 
and tyrannical rule alone consists with happiness; indeed, in some 
states the entire aim both of the laws and of the constitution is to 
give men despotic power over their neighbors. And, therefore, although 
in most cities the laws may be said generally to be in a chaotic 
state, still, if they aim at anything, they aim at the maintenance 
of power: thus in Lacedaemon and Crete the system of education and the 
greater part of the of the laws are framed with a view to war. And 
in all nations which are able to gratify their ambition military power 
is held in esteem, for example among the Scythians and Persians and 
Thracians and Celts . 

In some nations there are even laws tending to stimulate the warlike 
virtues, as at Carthage, where we are told that men obtain the honor 
of wearing as many armlets as they have served campaigns. There was 
once a law in Macedonia that he who had not killed an enemy should 
wear a halter, and among the Scythians no one who had not slain his 
man was allowed to drink out of the cup which was handed round at a 
certain feast. Among the Iberians, a warlike nation, the number of 
enemies whom a man has slain is indicated by the number of obelisks 
which are fixed in the earth round his tomb; and there are numerous 
practices among other nations of a like kind, some of them established 
by law and others by custom. Yet to a reflecting mind it must appear 
very strange that the statesman should be always considering how he 
can dominate and tyrannize over others, whether they will or not. 
How can that which is not even lawful be the business of the statesman 
or the legislator? Unlawful it certainly is to rule without regard 
to justice, for there may be might where there is no right. The 
other arts and sciences offer no parallel a physician is not 
expected to persuade or coerce his patients, nor a pilot the 
passengers in his ship. Yet most men appear to think that the art of 
despotic government is statesmanship, and what men affirm to be unjust 
and inexpedient in their own case they are not ashamed of practicing 
towards others; they demand just rule for themselves, but where 
other men are concerned they care nothing about it. Such behavior is 
irrational; unless the one party is, and the other is not, born to 
serve, in which case men have a right to command, not indeed all their 
fellows, but only those who are intended to be subjects; just as we 
ought not to hunt mankind, whether for food or sacrifice, but only the 
animals which may be hunted for food or sacrifice, this is to say, 
such wild animals as are eatable. And surely there may be a city happy 
in isolation, which we will assume to be well-governed (for it is 
quite possible that a city thus isolated might be well-administered 
and have good laws) ; but such a city would not be constituted with any 
view to war or the conquest of enemies- all that sort of thing must be 
excluded. Hence we see very plainly that warlike pursuits, although 
generally to be deemed honorable, are not the supreme end of all 
things, but only means. And the good lawgiver should inquire how 
states and races of men and communities may participate in a good 
life, and in the happiness which is attainable by them. His enactments 
will not be always the same; and where there are neighbors he will 
have to see what sort of studies should be practiced in relation to 
their several characters, or how the measures appropriate in 
relation to each are to be adopted. The end at which the best form 
of government should aim may be properly made a matter of future 

consideration . 


Let us now address those who, while they agree that the life of 
virtue is the most eligible, differ about the manner of practicing it. 
For some renounce political power, and think that the life of the 
freeman is different from the life of the statesman and the best of 
all; but others think the life of the statesman best. The argument 
of the latter is that he who does nothing cannot do well, and that 
virtuous activity is identical with happiness. To both we say: 'you 
are partly right and partly wrong.' first class are right in affirming 
that the life of the freeman is better than the life of the despot; 
for there is nothing grand or noble in having the use of a slave, in 
so far as he is a slave; or in issuing commands about necessary 
things. But it is an error to suppose that every sort of rule is 
despotic like that of a master over slaves, for there is as great a 
difference between the rule over freemen and the rule over slaves as 
there is between slavery by nature and freedom by nature, about 
which I have said enough at the commencement of this treatise. And 
it is equally a mistake to place inactivity above action, for 
happiness is activity, and the actions of the just and wise are the 
realization of much that is noble. 

But perhaps some one, accepting these premises, may still maintain 
that supreme power is the best of all things, because the possessors 
of it are able to perform the greatest number of noble actions, if so, 
the man who is able to rule, instead of giving up anything to his 
neighbor, ought rather to take away his power; and the father should 
make no account of his son, nor the son of his father, nor friend of 
friend; they should not bestow a thought on one another in 
comparison with this higher object, for the best is the most 
eligible and 'doing eligible' and 'doing well' is the best. There 
might be some truth in such a view if we assume that robbers and 
plunderers attain the chief good. But this can never be; their 
hypothesis is false. For the actions of a ruler cannot really be 
honorable, unless he is as much superior to other men as a husband 
is to a wife, or a father to his children, or a master to his 
slaves. And therefore he who violates the law can never recover by any 
success, however great, what he has already lost in departing from 
virtue. For equals the honorable and the just consist in sharing 
alike, as is just and equal. But that the unequal should be given to 
equals, and the unlike to those who are like, is contrary to nature, 
and nothing which is contrary to nature is good. If, therefore, 
there is any one superior in virtue and in the power of performing the 
best actions, him we ought to follow and obey, but he must have the 
capacity for action as well as virtue. 

If we are right in our view, and happiness is assumed to be virtuous 
activity, the active life will be the best, both for every city 
collectively, and for individuals. Not that a life of action must 
necessarily have relation to others, as some persons think, nor are 
those ideas only to be regarded as practical which are pursued for the 
sake of practical results, but much more the thoughts and 
contemplations which are independent and complete in themselves; since 
virtuous activity, and therefore a certain kind of action, is an 
end, and even in the case of external actions the directing mind is 
most truly said to act. Neither, again, is it necessary that states 
which are cut off from others and choose to live alone should be 
inactive; for activity, as well as other things, may take place by 
sections; there are many ways in which the sections of a state act 
upon one another. The same thing is equally true of every 
individual. If this were otherwise, God and the universe, who have 
no external actions over and above their own energies, would be far 
enough from perfection. Hence it is evident that the same life is best 
for each individual, and for states and for mankind collectively 


Thus far by way of introduction. In what has preceded I have 
discussed other forms of government; in what remains the first point 
to be considered is what should be the conditions of the ideal or 
perfect state; for the perfect state cannot exist without a due supply 
of the means of life. And therefore we must presuppose many purely 
imaginary conditions, but nothing impossible. There will be a 
certain number of citizens, a country in which to place them, and 
the like. As the weaver or shipbuilder or any other artisan must 
have the material proper for his work (and in proportion as this is 
better prepared, so will the result of his art be nobler) , so the 
statesman or legislator must also have the materials suited to him. 

First among the materials required by the statesman is population: 
he will consider what should be the number and character of the 
citizens, and then what should be the size and character of the 
country. Most persons think that a state in order to be happy ought to 
be large; but even if they are right, they have no idea what is a 
large and what a small state. For they judge of the size of the city 
by the number of the inhabitants; whereas they ought to regard, not 
their number, but their power. A city too, like an individual, has a 
work to do; and that city which is best adapted to the fulfillment 
of its work is to be deemed greatest, in the same sense of the word 
great in which Hippocrates might be called greater, not as a man, 
but as a physician, than some one else who was taller And even if we 
reckon greatness by numbers, we ought not to include everybody, for 
there must always be in cities a multitude of slaves and sojourners 
and foreigners; but we should include those only who are members of 
the state, and who form an essential part of it. The number of the 
latter is a proof of the greatness of a city; but a city which 
produces numerous artisans and comparatively few soldiers cannot be 
great, for a great city is not to be confounded with a populous one. 
Moreover, experience shows that a very populous city can rarely, if 
ever, be well governed; since all cities which have a reputation for 
good government have a limit of population. We may argue on grounds of 
reason, and the same result will follow. For law is order, and good 
law is good order; but a very great multitude cannot be orderly: to 
introduce order into the unlimited is the work of a divine power- of 
such a power as holds together the universe. Beauty is realized in 
number and magnitude, and the state which combines magnitude with good 
order must necessarily be the most beautiful. To the size of states 
there is a limit, as there is to other things, plants, animals, 
implements; for none of these retain their natural power when they are 
too large or too small, but they either wholly lose their nature, or 
are spoiled. For example, a ship which is only a span long will not be 
a ship at all, nor a ship a quarter of a mile long; yet there may be a 
ship of a certain size, either too large or too small, which will 
still be a ship, but bad for sailing. In like manner a state when 
composed of too few is not, as a state ought to be, self-sufficing; 
when of too many, though self-sufficing in all mere necessaries, as 
a nation may be, it is not a state, being almost incapable of 
constitutional government. For who can be the general of such a vast 
multitude, or who the herald, unless he have the voice of a Stentor? 

A state, then, only begins to exist when it has attained a 
population sufficient for a good life in the political community: it 
may indeed, if it somewhat exceed this number, be a greater state. 
But, as I was saying, there must be a limit. What should be the 
limit will be easily ascertained by experience. For both governors and 
governed have duties to perform; the special functions of a governor 
to command and to judge. But if the citizens of a state are to judge 
and to distribute offices according to merit, then they must know each 
other's characters; where they do not possess this knowledge, both the 
election to offices and the decision of lawsuits will go wrong. When 
the population is very large they are manifestly settled at haphazard, 
which clearly ought not to be. Besides, in an over-populous state 

foreigners and metics will readily acquire the rights of citizens, for 
who will find them out? Clearly then the best limit of the 
population of a state is the largest number which suffices for the 
purposes of life, and can be taken in at a single view. Enough 
concerning the size of a state. 


Much the same principle will apply to the territory of the state: 
every one would agree in praising the territory which is most entirely 
self-sufficing; and that must be the territory which is all-producing, 
for to have all things and to want nothing is sufficiency. In size and 
extent it should be such as may enable the inhabitants to live at once 
temperately and liberally in the enjoyment of leisure. Whether we 
are right or wrong in laying down this limit we will inquire more 
precisely hereafter, when we have occasion to consider what is the 
right use of property and wealth: a matter which is much disputed, 
because men are inclined to rush into one of two extremes, some into 
meanness, others into luxury. 

It is not difficult to determine the general character of the 
territory which is required (there are, however, some points on 
which military authorities should be heard) ; it should be difficult of 
access to the enemy, and easy of egress to the inhabitants. Further, 
we require that the land as well as the inhabitants of whom we were 
just now speaking should be taken in at a single view, for a country 
which is easily seen can be easily protected. As to the position of 
the city, if we could have what we wish, it should be well situated in 
regard both to sea and land. This then is one principle, that it 
should be a convenient center for the protection of the whole country: 
the other is, that it should be suitable for receiving the fruits of 
the soil, and also for the bringing in of timber and any other 
products that are easily transported. 


Whether a communication with the sea is beneficial to a well-ordered 
state or not is a question which has often been asked. It is argued 
that the introduction of strangers brought up under other laws, and 
the increase of population, will be adverse to good order; the 
increase arises from their using the sea and having a crowd of 
merchants coming and going, and is inimical to good government. 
Apart from these considerations, it would be undoubtedly better, 
both with a view to safety and to the provision of necessaries, that 
the city and territory should be connected with the sea; the defenders 
of a country, if they are to maintain themselves against an enemy, 
should be easily relieved both by land and by sea; and even if they 
are not able to attack by sea and land at once, they will have less 
difficulty in doing mischief to their assailants on one element, if 
they themselves can use both. Moreover, it is necessary that they 
should import from abroad what is not found in their own country, 
and that they should export what they have in excess; for a city ought 
to be a market, not indeed for others, but for herself. 

Those who make themselves a market for the world only do so for 
the sake of revenue, and if a state ought not to desire profit of this 
kind it ought not to have such an emporium. Nowadays we often see in 
countries and cities dockyards and harbors very conveniently placed 
outside the city, but not too far off; and they are kept in dependence 
by walls and similar fortifications. Cities thus situated manifestly 
reap the benefit of intercourse with their ports; and any harm which 
is likely to accrue may be easily guarded against by the laws, which 
will pronounce and determine who may hold communication with one 
another, and who may not. 

There can be no doubt that the possession of a moderate naval 
force is advantageous to a city; the city should be formidable not 
only to its own citizens but to some of its neighbors, or, if 
necessary, able to assist them by sea as well as by land. The proper 

number or magnitude of this naval force is relative to the character 
of the state; for if her function is to take a leading part in 
politics, her naval power should be commensurate with the scale of her 
enterprises. The population of the state need not be much increased, 
since there is no necessity that the sailors should be citizens: the 
marines who have the control and command will be freemen, and belong 
also to the infantry; and wherever there is a dense population of 
Perioeci and husbandmen, there will always be sailors more than 
enough. Of this we see instances at the present day. The city of 
Heraclea, for example, although small in comparison with many 
others, can man a considerable fleet. Such are our conclusions 
respecting the territory of the state, its harbors, its towns, its 
relations to the sea, and its maritime power. 


Having spoken of the number of the citizens, we will proceed to 
speak of what should be their character. This is a subject which can 
be easily understood by any one who casts his eye on the more 
celebrated states of Hellas, and generally on the distribution of 
races in the habitable world. Those who live in a cold climate and 
in Europe are full of spirit, but wanting in intelligence and skill; 
and therefore they retain comparative freedom, but have no political 
organization, and are incapable of ruling over others. Whereas the 
natives of Asia are intelligent and inventive, but they are wanting in 
spirit, and therefore they are always in a state of subjection and 
slavery. But the Hellenic race, which is situated between them, is 
likewise intermediate in character, being high-spirited and also 
intelligent. Hence it continues free, and is the best-governed of 
any nation, and, if it could be formed into one state, would be able 
to rule the world. There are also similar differences in the different 
tribes of Hellas; for some of them are of a one-sided nature, and 
are intelligent or courageous only, while in others there is a happy 
combination of both qualities. And clearly those whom the legislator 
will most easily lead to virtue may be expected to be both intelligent 
and courageous . Some say that the guardians should be friendly towards 
those whom they know, fierce towards those whom they do not know. Now, 
passion is the quality of the soul which begets friendship and enables 
us to love; notably the spirit within us is more stirred against our 
friends and acquaintances than against those who are unknown to us, 
when we think that we are despised by them; for which reason 
Archilochus, complaining of his friends, very naturally addresses 
his soul in these words: 

For surely thou art plagued on account of friends. 

The power of command and the love of freedom are in all men based 
upon this quality, for passion is commanding and invincible. Nor is it 
right to say that the guardians should be fierce towards those whom 
they do not know, for we ought not to be out of temper with any one; 
and a lofty spirit is not fierce by nature, but only when excited 
against evil-doers. And this, as I was saying before, is a feeling 
which men show most strongly towards their friends if they think 
they have received a wrong at their hands: as indeed is reasonable; 
for, besides the actual injury, they seem to be deprived of a 
benefit by those who owe them one. Hence the saying: 

Cruel is the strife of brethren, 

and again: 

They who love in excess also hate in excess. 

Thus we have nearly determined the number and character of the 
citizens of our state, and also the size and nature of their 

territory. I say 'nearly, ' for we ought not to require the same 
minuteness in theory as in the facts given by perception. 


As in other natural compounds the conditions of a composite whole 
are not necessarily organic parts of it, so in a state or in any other 
combination forming a unity not everything is a part, which is a 
necessary condition. The members of an association have necessarily 
some one thing the same and common to all, in which they share equally 
or unequally for example, food or land or any other thing. But where 
there are two things of which one is a means and the other an end, 
they have nothing in common except that the one receives what the 
other produces. Such, for example, is the relation which workmen and 
tools stand to their work; the house and the builder have nothing in 
common, but the art of the builder is for the sake of the house. And 
so states require property, but property, even though living beings 
are included in it, is no part of a state; for a state is not a 
community of living beings only, but a community of equals, aiming 
at the best life possible. Now, whereas happiness is the highest good, 
being a realization and perfect practice of virtue, which some can 
attain, while others have little or none of it, the various 
qualities of men are clearly the reason why there are various kinds of 
states and many forms of government; for different men seek after 
happiness in different ways and by different means, and so make for 
themselves different modes of life and forms of government. We must 
see also how many things are indispensable to the existence of a 
state, for what we call the parts of a state will be found among the 
indispensables . Let us then enumerate the functions of a state, and we 
shall easily elicit what we want: 

First, there must be food; secondly, arts, for life requires many 
instruments; thirdly, there must be arms, for the members of a 
community have need of them, and in their own hands, too, in order 
to maintain authority both against disobedient subjects and against 
external assailants; fourthly, there must be a certain amount of 
revenue, both for internal needs, and for the purposes of war; 
fifthly, or rather first, there must be a care of religion which is 
commonly called worship; sixthly, and most necessary of all there must 
be a power of deciding what is for the public interest, and what is 
just in men's dealings with one another. 

These are the services which every state may be said to need. For 
a state is not a mere aggregate of persons, but a union of them 
sufficing for the purposes of life; and if any of these things be 
wanting, it is as we maintain impossible that the community can be 
absolutely self-sufficing. A state then should be framed with a view 
to the fulfillment of these functions. There must be husbandmen to 
procure food, and artisans, and a warlike and a wealthy class, and 
priests, and judges to decide what is necessary and expedient. 


Having determined these points, we have in the next place to 
consider whether all ought to share in every sort of occupation. Shall 
every man be at once husbandman, artisan, councillor, judge, or 
shall we suppose the several occupations just mentioned assigned to 
different persons? or, thirdly, shall some employments be assigned 
to individuals and others common to all? The same arrangement, 
however, does not occur in every constitution; as we were saying, 
all may be shared by all, or not all by all, but only by some; and 
hence arise the differences of constitutions, for in democracies all 
share in all, in oligarchies the opposite practice prevails. Now, 
since we are here speaking of the best form of government, i.e., 
that under which the state will be most happy (and happiness, as has 
been already said, cannot exist without virtue) , it clearly follows 
that in the state which is best governed and possesses men who are 
just absolutely, and not merely relatively to the principle of the 

constitution, the citizens must not lead the life of mechanics or 
tradesmen, for such a life is ignoble, and inimical to virtue. Neither 
must they be husbandmen, since leisure is necessary both for the 
development of virtue and the performance of political duties. 

Again, there is in a state a class of warriors, and another of 
councillors, who advise about the expedient and determine matters of 
law, and these seem in an especial manner parts of a state. Now, 
should these two classes be distinguished, or are both functions to be 
assigned to the same persons? Here again there is no difficulty in 
seeing that both functions will in one way belong to the same, in 
another, to different persons. To different persons in so far as these 
i.e., the physical and the employments are suited to different 
primes of life, for the one requires mental wisdom and the other 
strength. But on the other hand, since it is an impossible thing 
that those who are able to use or to resist force should be willing to 
remain always in subjection, from this point of view the persons are 
the same; for those who carry arms can always determine the fate of 
the constitution. It remains therefore that both functions should be 
entrusted by the ideal constitution to the same persons, not, however, 
at the same time, but in the order prescribed by nature, who has given 
to young men strength and to older men wisdom. Such a distribution 
of duties will be expedient and also just, and is founded upon a 
principle of conformity to merit. Besides, the ruling class should 
be the owners of property, for they are citizens, and the citizens 
of a state should be in good circumstances; whereas mechanics or any 
other class which is not a producer of virtue have no share in the 
state. This follows from our first principle, for happiness cannot 
exist without virtue, and a city is not to be termed happy in regard 
to a portion of the citizens, but in regard to them all. And clearly 
property should be in their hands, since the husbandmen will of 
necessity be slaves or barbarian Perioeci . 

Of the classes enumerated there remain only the priests, and the 
manner in which their office is to be regulated is obvious. No 
husbandman or mechanic should be appointed to it; for the Gods 
should receive honor from the citizens only. Now since the body of the 
citizen is divided into two classes, the warriors and the 
councillors and it is beseeming that the worship of the Gods should be 
duly performed, and also a rest provided in their service for those 
who from age have given up active life, to the old men of these two 
classes should be assigned the duties of the priesthood. 

We have shown what are the necessary conditions, and what the 
parts of a state: husbandmen, craftsmen, and laborers of an kinds 
are necessary to the existence of states, but the parts of the state 
are the warriors and councillors. And these are distinguished 
severally from one another, the distinction being in some cases 
permanent, in others not. 


It is not a new or recent discovery of political philosophers that 
the state ought to be divided into classes, and that the warriors 
should be separated from the husbandmen. The system has continued in 
Egypt and in Crete to this day, and was established, as tradition 
says, by a law of Sesostris in Egypt and of Minos in Crete. The 
institution of common tables also appears to be of ancient date, being 
in Crete as old as the reign of Minos, and in Italy far older. The 
Italian historians say that there was a certain Italus, king of 
Oenotria, from whom the Oenotrians were called Italians, and who 
gave the name of Italy to the promontory of Europe lying within the 
Scylletic and Lametic Gulfs, which are distant from one another only 
half a day's journey. They say that this Italus converted the 
Oenotrians from shepherds into husbandmen, and besides other laws 
which he gave them, was the founder of their common meals; even in our 
day some who are derived from him retain this institution and 
certain other laws of his. On the side of Italy towards Tyrrhenia 

dwelt the Opici, who are now, as of old, called Ausones; and on the 
side towards Iapygia and the Ionian Gulf, in the district called 
Siritis, the Chones, who are likewise of Oenotrian race. From this 
part of the world originally came the institution of common tables; 
the separation into castes from Egypt, for the reign of Sesostris is 
of far greater antiquity than that of Minos. It is true indeed that 
these and many other things have been invented several times over in 
the course of ages, or rather times without number; for necessity 
may be supposed to have taught men the inventions which were 
absolutely required, and when these were provided, it was natural that 
other things which would adorn and enrich life should grow up by 
degrees. And we may infer that in political institutions the same rule 
holds. Egypt witnesses to the antiquity of all these things, for the 
Egyptians appear to be of all people the most ancient; and they have 
laws and a regular constitution existing from time immemorial. We 
should therefore make the best use of what has been already 
discovered, and try to supply defects. 

I have already remarked that the land ought to belong to those who 
possess arms and have a share in the government, and that the 
husbandmen ought to be a class distinct from them; and I have 
determined what should be the extent and nature of the territory. 
Let me proceed to discuss the distribution of the land, and the 
character of the agricultural class; for I do not think that 
property ought to be common, as some maintain, but only that by 
friendly consent there should be a common use of it; and that no 
citizen should be in want of subsistence. 

As to common meals, there is a general agreement that a well ordered 
city should have them; and we will hereafter explain what are our 
own reasons for taking this view. They ought, however, to be open to 
all the citizens. And yet it is not easy for the poor to contribute 
the requisite sum out of their private means, and to provide also 
for their household. The expense of religious worship should 
likewise be a public charge. The land must therefore be divided into 
two parts, one public and the other private, and each part should be 
subdivided, part of the public land being appropriated to the 
service of the Gods, and the other part used to defray the cost of the 
common meals; while of the private land, part should be near the 
border, and the other near the city, so that, each citizen having 
two lots, they may all of them have land in both places; there is 
justice and fairness in such a division, and it tends to inspire 
unanimity among the people in their border wars. Where there is not 
this arrangement some of them are too ready to come to blows with 
their neighbors, while others are so cautious that they quite lose the 
sense of honor. Wherefore there is a law in some places which 
forbids those who dwell near the border to take part in public 
deliberations about wars with neighbors, on the ground that their 
interests will pervert their judgment. For the reasons already 
mentioned, then, the land should be divided in the manner described. 
The very best thing of all would be that the husbandmen should be 
slaves taken from among men who are not all of the same race and not 
spirited, for if they have no spirit they will be better suited for 
their work, and there will be no danger of their making a 
revolution. The next best thing would be that they should be 
Perioeci of foreign race, and of a like inferior nature; some of 
them should be the slaves of individuals, and employed in the 
private estates of men of property, the remainder should be the 
property of the state and employed on the common land. I will 
hereafter explain what is the proper treatment of slaves, and why it 
is expedient that liberty should be always held out to them as the 
reward of their services. 


We have already said that the city should be open to the land and to 
the sea, and to the whole country as far as possible. In respect of 

the place itself our wish would be that its situation should be 
fortunate in four things. The first, health- this is a necessity: 
cities which lie towards the east, and are blown upon by winds 
coming from the east, are the healthiest; next in healthf ulness are 
those which are sheltered from the north wind, for they have a 
milder winter. The site of the city should likewise be convenient both 
for political administration and for war. With a view to the latter it 
should afford easy egress to the citizens, and at the same time be 
inaccessible and difficult of capture to enemies. There should be a 
natural abundance of springs and fountains in the town, or, if there 
is a deficiency of them, great reservoirs may be established for the 
collection of rainwater, such as will not fail when the inhabitants 
are cut off from the country by by war. Special care should be taken 
of the health of the inhabitants, which will depend chiefly on the 
healthiness of the locality and of the quarter to which they are 
exposed, and secondly, on the use of pure water; this latter point 
is by no means a secondary consideration. For the elements which we 
use most and oftenest for the support of the body contribute most to 
health, and among these are water and air. Wherefore, in all wise 
states, if there is a want of pure water, and the supply is not all 
equally good, the drinking water ought to be separated from that which 
is used for other purposes. 

As to strongholds, what is suitable to different forms of government 
varies: thus an acropolis is suited to an oligarchy or a monarchy, but 
a plain to a democracy; neither to an aristocracy, but rather a number 
of strong places. The arrangement of private houses is considered to 
be more agreeable and generally more convenient, if the streets are 
regularly laid out after the modern fashion which Hippodamus 
introduced, but for security in war the antiquated mode of building, 
which made it difficult for strangers to get out of a town and for 
assailants to find their way in, is preferable. A city should 
therefore adopt both plans of building: it is possible to arrange 
the houses irregularly, as husbandmen plant their vines in what are 
called 'clumps.' The whole town should not be laid out in straight 
lines, but only certain quarters and regions; thus security and beauty 
will be combined. 

As to walls, those who say that cities making any pretension to 
military virtue should not have them, are quite out of date in their 
notions; and they may see the cities which prided themselves on this 
fancy confuted by facts. True, there is little courage shown in 
seeking for safety behind a rampart when an enemy is similar in 
character and not much superior in number; but the superiority of 
the besiegers may be and often is too much both for ordinary human 
valor and for that which is found only in a few; and if they are to be 
saved and to escape defeat and outrage, the strongest wall will be the 
truest soldierly precaution, more especially now that missiles and 
siege engines have been brought to such perfection. To have no walls 
would be as foolish as to choose a site for a town in an exposed 
country, and to level the heights; or as if an individual were to 
leave his house unwalled, lest the inmates should become cowards. 
Nor must we forget that those who have their cities surrounded by 
walls may either take advantage of them or not, but cities which are 
unwalled have no choice. 

If our conclusions are just, not only should cities have walls, 
but care should be taken to make them ornamental, as well as useful 
for warlike purposes, and adapted to resist modern inventions. For 
as the assailants of a city do all they can to gain an advantage, so 
the defenders should make use of any means of defense which have 
been already discovered, and should devise and invent others, for when 
men are well prepared no enemy even thinks of attacking them. 


As the walls are to be divided by guardhouses and towers built at 
suitable intervals, and the body of citizens must be distributed at 

common tables, the idea will naturally occur that we should 
establish some of the common tables in the guardhouses. These might be 
arranged as has been suggested; while the principal common tables of 
the magistrates will occupy a suitable place, and there also will be 
the buildings appropriated to religious worship except in the case 
of those rites which the law or the Pythian oracle has restricted to a 
special locality. The site should be a spot seen far and wide, which 
gives due elevation to virtue and towers over the neighborhood. 
Below this spot should be established an agora, such as that which the 
Thessalians call the 'freemen's agora'; from this all trade should 
be excluded, and no mechanic, husbandman, or any such person allowed 
to enter, unless he be summoned by the magistrates. It would be a 
charming use of the place, if the gymnastic exercises of the elder men 
were performed there. For in this noble practice different ages should 
be separated, and some of the magistrates should stay with the boys, 
while the grown-up men remain with the magistrates; for the presence 
of the magistrates is the best mode of inspiring true modesty and 
ingenuous fear. There should also be a traders' agora, distinct and 
apart from the other, in a situation which is convenient for the 
reception of goods both by sea and land. 

But in speaking of the magistrates we must not forget another 
section of the citizens, viz., the priests, for whom public tables 
should likewise be provided in their proper place near the temples. 
The magistrates who deal with contracts, indictments, summonses, and 
the like, and those who have the care of the agora and of the city, 
respectively, ought to be established near an agora and some public 
place of meeting; the neighborhood of the traders' agora will be a 
suitable spot; the upper agora we devote to the life of leisure, the 
other is intended for the necessities of trade. 

The same order should prevail in the country, for there too the 
magistrates, called by some 'Inspectors of Forests' and by others 
'Wardens of the Country, ' must have guardhouses and common tables 
while they are on duty; temples should also be scattered throughout 
the country, dedicated, some to Gods, and some to heroes. 

But it would be a waste of time for us to linger over details like 
these. The difficulty is not in imagining but in carrying them out. We 
may talk about them as much as we like, but the execution of them will 
depend upon fortune. Wherefore let us say no more about these 
matters for the present. 


Returning to the constitution itself, let us seek to determine out 
of what and what sort of elements the state which is to be happy and 
well-governed should be composed. There are two things in which all 
which all well-being consists: one of them is the choice of a right 
end and aim of action, and the other the discovery of the actions 
which are means towards it; for the means and the end may agree or 
disagree. Sometimes the right end is set before men, but in practice 
they fail to attain it; in other cases they are successful in all 
the means, but they propose to themselves a bad end; and sometimes 
they fail in both. Take, for example, the art of medicine; 
physicians do not always understand the nature of health, and also the 
means which they use may not effect the desired end. In all arts and 
sciences both the end and the means should be equally within our 
control . 

The happiness and well-being which all men manifestly desire, some 
have the power of attaining, but to others, from some accident or 
defect of nature, the attainment of them is not granted; for a good 
life requires a supply of external goods, in a less degree when men 
are in a good state, in a greater degree when they are in a lower 
state. Others again, who possess the conditions of happiness, go 
utterly wrong from the first in the pursuit of it. But since our 
object is to discover the best form of government, that, namely, under 
which a city will be best governed, and since the city is best 

governed which has the greatest opportunity of obtaining happiness, it 
is evident that we must clearly ascertain the nature of happiness. 

We maintain, and have said in the Ethics, if the arguments there 
adduced are of any value, that happiness is the realization and 
perfect exercise of virtue, and this not conditional, but absolute. 
And I used the term 'conditional' to express that which is 
indispensable, and 'absolute' to express that which is good in itself. 
Take the case of just actions; just punishments and chastisements do 
indeed spring from a good principle, but they are good only because we 
cannot do without them- it would be better that neither individuals 
nor states should need anything of the sort- but actions which aim 
at honor and advantage are absolutely the best. The conditional action 
is only the choice of a lesser evil; whereas these are the 
foundation and creation of good. A good man may make the best even 
of poverty and disease, and the other ills of life; but he can only 
attain happiness under the opposite conditions (for this also has been 
determined in accordance with ethical arguments, that the good man 
is he for whom, because he is virtuous, the things that are absolutely 
good are good; it is also plain that his use of these goods must be 
virtuous and in the absolute sense good) . This makes men fancy that 
external goods are the cause of happiness, yet we might as well say 
that a brilliant performance on the lyre was to be attributed to the 
instrument and not to the skill of the performer. 

It follows then from what has been said that some things the 
legislator must find ready to his hand in a state, others he must 
provide. And therefore we can only say: May our state be constituted 
in such a manner as to be blessed with the goods of which fortune 
disposes (for we acknowledge her power) : whereas virtue and goodness 
in the state are not a matter of chance but the result of knowledge 
and purpose. A city can be virtuous only when the citizens who have 
a share in the government are virtuous, and in our state all the 
citizens share in the government; let us then inquire how a man 
becomes virtuous. For even if we could suppose the citizen body to 
be virtuous, without each of them being so, yet the latter would be 
better, for in the virtue of each the virtue of all is involved. 

There are three things which make men good and virtuous; these are 
nature, habit, rational principle. In the first place, every one 
must be born a man and not some other animal; so, too, he must have 
a certain character, both of body and soul. But some qualities there 
is no use in having at birth, for they are altered by habit, and there 
are some gifts which by nature are made to be turned by habit to 
good or bad. Animals lead for the most part a life of nature, although 
in lesser particulars some are influenced by habit as well. Man has 
rational principle, in addition, and man only. Wherefore nature, 
habit, rational principle must be in harmony with one another; for 
they do not always agree; men do many things against habit and nature, 
if rational principle persuades them that they ought. We have 
already determined what natures are likely to be most easily molded by 
the hands of the legislator. An else is the work of education; we 
learn some things by habit and some by instruction. 


Since every political society is composed of rulers and subjects let 
us consider whether the relations of one to the other should 
interchange or be permanent. For the education of the citizens will 
necessarily vary with the answer given to this question. Now, if 
some men excelled others in the same degree in which gods and heroes 
are supposed to excel mankind in general (having in the first place 
a great advantage even in their bodies, and secondly in their 
minds), so that the superiority of the governors was undisputed and 
patent to their subjects, it would clearly be better that once for 
an the one class should rule and the other serve. But since this is 
unattainable, and kings have no marked superiority over their 
subjects, such as Scylax affirms to be found among the Indians, it 

is obviously necessary on many grounds that all the citizens alike 
should take their turn of governing and being governed. Equality 
consists in the same treatment of similar persons, and no government 
can stand which is not founded upon justice. For if the government 
be unjust every one in the country unites with the governed in the 
desire to have a revolution, and it is an impossibility that the 
members of the government can be so numerous as to be stronger than 
all their enemies put together. Yet that governors should excel 
their subjects is undeniable. How all this is to be effected, and in 
what way they will respectively share in the government, the 
legislator has to consider. The subject has been already mentioned. 
Nature herself has provided the distinction when she made a difference 
between old and young within the same species, of whom she fitted 
the one to govern and the other to be governed. No one takes offense 
at being governed when he is young, nor does he think himself better 
than his governors, especially if he will enjoy the same privilege 
when he reaches the required age. 

We conclude that from one point of view governors and governed are 
identical, and from another different. And therefore their education 
must be the same and also different. For he who would learn to command 
well must, as men say, first of all learn to obey. As I observed in 
the first part of this treatise, there is one rule which is for the 
sake of the rulers and another rule which is for the sake of the 
ruled; the former is a despotic, the latter a free government. Some 
commands differ not in the thing commanded, but in the intention with 
which they are imposed. Wherefore, many apparently menial offices are 
an honor to the free youth by whom they are performed; for actions do 
not differ as honorable or dishonorable in themselves so much as in 
the end and intention of them. But since we say that the virtue of 
the citizen and ruler is the same as that of the good man, and that 
the same person must first be a subject and then a ruler, the 
legislator has to see that they become good men, and by what means 
this may be accomplished, and what is the end of the perfect life. 

Now the soul of man is divided into two parts, one of which has a 
rational principle in itself, and the other, not having a rational 
principle in itself, is able to obey such a principle. And we call a 
man in any way good because he has the virtues of these two parts. 
In which of them the end is more likely to be found is no matter of 
doubt to those who adopt our division; for in the world both of nature 
and of art the inferior always exists for the sake of the better or 
superior, and the better or superior is that which has a rational 
principle. This principle, too, in our ordinary way of speaking, is 
divided into two kinds, for there is a practical and a speculative 
principle. This part, then, must evidently be similarly divided. And 
there must be a corresponding division of actions; the actions of 
the naturally better part are to be preferred by those who have it 
in their power to attain to two out of the three or to all, for that 
is always to every one the most eligible which is the highest 
attainable by him. The whole of life is further divided into two 
parts, business and leisure, war and peace, and of actions some aim at 
what is necessary and useful, and some at what is honorable. And the 
preference given to one or the other class of actions must necessarily 
be like the preference given to one or other part of the soul and 
its actions over the other; there must be war for the sake of peace, 
business for the sake of leisure, things useful and necessary for 
the sake of things honorable. All these points the statesman should 
keep in view when he frames his laws; he should consider the parts 
of the soul and their functions, and above all the better and the end; 
he should also remember the diversities of human lives and actions. 
For men must be able to engage in business and go to war, but 
leisure and peace are better; they must do what is necessary and 
indeed what is useful, but what is honorable is better. On such 
principles children and persons of every age which requires 
education should be trained. Whereas even the Hellenes of the 

present day who are reputed to be best governed, and the legislators 
who gave them their constitutions, do not appear to have framed 
their governments with a regard to the best end, or to have given them 
laws and education with a view to all the virtues, but in a vulgar 
spirit have fallen back on those which promised to be more useful 
and profitable. Many modern writers have taken a similar view: they 
commend the Lacedaemonian constitution, and praise the legislator 
for making conquest and war his sole aim, a doctrine which may be 
refuted by argument and has long ago been refuted by facts. For most 
men desire empire in the hope of accumulating the goods of fortune; 
and on this ground Thibron and all those who have written about the 
Lacedaemonian constitution have praised their legislator, because 
the Lacedaemonians, by being trained to meet dangers, gained great 
power. But surely they are not a happy people now that their empire 
has passed away, nor was their legislator right. How ridiculous is the 
result, if, when they are continuing in the observance of his laws and 
no one interferes with them, they have lost the better part of life! 
These writers further err about the sort of government which the 
legislator should approve, for the government of freemen is nobler and 
implies more virtue than despotic government. Neither is a city to 
be deemed happy or a legislator to be praised because he trains his 
citizens to conquer and obtain dominion over their neighbors, for 
there is great evil in this. On a similar principle any citizen who 
could, should obviously try to obtain the power in his own state- 
the crime which the Lacedaemonians accuse king Pausanias of 
attempting, although he had so great honor already. No such 
principle and no law having this object is either statesmanlike or 
useful or right. For the same things are best both for individuals and 
for states, and these are the things which the legislator ought to 
implant in the minds of his citizens. 

Neither should men study war with a view to the enslavement of those 
who do not deserve to be enslaved; but first of all they should 
provide against their own enslavement, and in the second place 
obtain empire for the good of the governed, and not for the sake of 
exercising a general despotism, and in the third place they should 
seek to be masters only over those who deserve to be slaves. Facts, as 
well as arguments, prove that the legislator should direct all his 
military and other measures to the provision of leisure and the 
establishment of peace. For most of these military states are safe 
only while they are at war, but fall when they have acquired their 
empire; like unused iron they lose their temper in time of peace. 
And for this the legislator is to blame, he never having taught them 
how to lead the life of peace. 


Since the end of individuals and of states is the same, the end of 
the best man and of the best constitution must also be the same; it is 
therefore evident that there ought to exist in both of them the 
virtues of leisure; for peace, as has been often repeated, is the 
end of war, and leisure of toil. But leisure and cultivation may be 
promoted, not only by those virtues which are practiced in leisure, 
but also by some of those which are useful to business. For many 
necessaries of life have to be supplied before we can have leisure. 
Therefore a city must be temperate and brave, and able to endure: 
for truly, as the proverb says, 'There is no leisure for slaves, ' 
and those who cannot face danger like men are the slaves of any 
invader. Courage and endurance are required for business and 
philosophy for leisure, temperance and justice for both, and more 
especially in times of peace and leisure, for war compels men to be 
just and temperate, whereas the enjoyment of good fortune and the 
leisure which comes with peace tend to make them insolent. Those 
then who seem to be the best-off and to be in the possession of 
every good, have special need of justice and temperance- for 
example, those (if such there be, as the poets say) who dwell in the 

Islands of the Blest; they above all will need philosophy and 
temperance and justice, and all the more the more leisure they have, 
living in the midst of abundance. There is no difficulty in seeing why 
the state that would be happy and good ought to have these virtues. If 
it be disgraceful in men not to be able to use the goods of life, it 
is peculiarly disgraceful not to be able to use them in time of 
leisure- to show excellent qualities in action and war, and when 
they have peace and leisure to be no better than slaves. Wherefore 
we should not practice virtue after the manner of the 
Lacedaemonians. For they, while agreeing with other men in their 
conception of the highest goods, differ from the rest of mankind in 
thinking that they are to be obtained by the practice of a single 
virtue. And since they think these goods and the enjoyment of them 
greater than the enjoyment derived from the virtues ... and that it 
should be practiced for its own sake, is evident from what has been 
said; we must now consider how and by what means it is to be attained. 

We have already determined that nature and habit and rational 
principle are required, and, of these, the proper nature of the 
citizens has also been defined by us. But we have still to consider 
whether the training of early life is to be that of rational principle 
or habit, for these two must accord, and when in accord they will then 
form the best of harmonies. The rational principle may be mistaken and 
fail in attaining the highest ideal of life, and there may be a like 
evil influence of habit. Thus much is clear in the first place, 
that, as in all other things, birth implies an antecedent beginning, 
and that there are beginnings whose end is relative to a further 
end. Now, in men rational principle and mind are the end towards which 
nature strives, so that the birth and moral discipline of the citizens 
ought to be ordered with a view to them. In the second place, as the 
soul and body are two, we see also that there are two parts of the 
soul, the rational and the irrational, and two corresponding states- 
reason and appetite. And as the body is prior in order of generation 
to the soul, so the irrational is prior to the rational. The proof 
is that anger and wishing and desire are implanted in children from 
their very birth, but reason and understanding are developed as they 
grow older. Wherefore, the care of the body ought to precede that of 
the soul, and the training of the appetitive part should follow: 
none the less our care of it must be for the sake of the reason, and 
our care of the body for the sake of the soul. 


Since the legislator should begin by considering how the frames of 
the children whom he is rearing may be as good as possible, his 
first care will be about marriage- at what age should his citizens 
marry, and who are fit to marry? In legislating on this subject he 
ought to consider the persons and the length of their life, that their 
procreative life may terminate at the same period, and that they may 
not differ in their bodily powers, as will be the case if the man is 
still able to beget children while the woman is unable to bear them, 
or the woman able to bear while the man is unable to beget, for from 
these causes arise quarrels and differences between married persons. 
Secondly, he must consider the time at which the children will succeed 
to their parents; there ought not to be too great an interval of 
age, for then the parents will be too old to derive any pleasure 
from their affection, or to be of any use to them. Nor ought they to 
be too nearly of an age; to youthful marriages there are many 
objections- the children will be wanting in respect to the parents, 
who will seem to be their contemporaries, and disputes will arise in 
the management of the household. Thirdly, and this is the point from 
which we digressed, the legislator must mold to his will the frames of 
newly-born children. Almost all these objects may be secured by 
attention to one point. Since the time of generation is commonly 
limited within the age of seventy years in the case of a man, and of 
fifty in the case of a woman, the commencement of the union should 

conform to these periods. The union of male and female when too 
young is bad for the procreation of children; in all other animals the 
offspring of the young are small and in-developed, and with a tendency 
to produce female children, and therefore also in man, as is proved by 
the fact that in those cities in which men and women are accustomed to 
marry young, the people are small and weak; in childbirth also younger 
women suffer more, and more of them die; some persons say that this 
was the meaning of the response once given to the Troezenians- the 
oracle really meant that many died because they married too young; 
it had nothing to do with the ingathering of the harvest. It also 
conduces to temperance not to marry too soon; for women who marry 
early are apt to be wanton; and in men too the bodily frame is stunted 
if they marry while the seed is growing (for there is a time when 
the growth of the seed, also, ceases, or continues to but a slight 
extent) . Women should marry when they are about eighteen years of age, 
and men at seven and thirty; then they are in the prime of life, and 
the decline in the powers of both will coincide. Further, the 
children, if their birth takes place soon, as may reasonably be 
expected, will succeed in the beginning of their prime, when the 
fathers are already in the decline of life, and have nearly reached 
their term of three-score years and ten. 

Thus much of the age proper for marriage: the season of the year 
should also be considered; according to our present custom, people 
generally limit marriage to the season of winter, and they are right. 
The precepts of physicians and natural philosophers about generation 
should also be studied by the parents themselves; the physicians give 
good advice about the favorable conditions of the body, and the 
natural philosophers about the winds; of which they prefer the north 
to the south. 

What constitution in the parent is most advantageous to the 
offspring is a subject which we will consider more carefully when we 
speak of the education of children, and we will only make a few 
general remarks at present. The constitution of an athlete is not 
suited to the life of a citizen, or to health, or to the procreation 
of children, any more than the valetudinarian or exhausted 
constitution, but one which is in a mean between them. A man's 
constitution should be inured to labor, but not to labor which is 
excessive or of one sort only, such as is practiced by athletes; he 
should be capable of all the actions of a freeman. These remarks apply 
equally to both parents. 

Women who are with child should be careful of themselves; they 
should take exercise and have a nourishing diet. The first of these 
prescriptions the legislator will easily carry into effect by 
requiring that they shall take a walk daily to some temple, where they 
can worship the gods who preside over birth. Their minds, however, 
unlike their bodies, they ought to keep quiet, for the offspring 
derive their natures from their mothers as plants do from the earth. 

As to the exposure and rearing of children, let there be a law that 
no deformed child shall live, but that on the ground of an excess in 
the number of children, if the established customs of the state forbid 
this (for in our state population has a limit), no child is to be 
exposed, but when couples have children in excess, let abortion be 
procured before sense and life have begun; what may or may not be 
lawfully done in these cases depends on the question of life and 
sensation . 

And now, having determined at what ages men and women are to begin 
their union, let us also determine how long they shall continue to 
beget and bear offspring for the state; men who are too old, like men 
who are too young, produce children who are defective in body and 
mind; the children of very old men are weakly. The limit then, should 
be the age which is the prime of their intelligence, and this in most 
persons, according to the notion of some poets who measure life by 
periods of seven years, is about fifty; at four or five years or 
later, they should cease from having families; and from that time 

forward only cohabit with one another for the sake of health; or for 
some similar reason. 

As to adultery, let it be held disgraceful, in general, for any 
man or woman to be found in any way unfaithful when they are 
married, and called husband and wife. If during the time of bearing 
children anything of the sort occur, let the guilty person be punished 
with a loss of privileges in proportion to the offense. 


After the children have been born, the manner of rearing them may be 
supposed to have a great effect on their bodily strength. It would 
appear from the example of animals, and of those nations who desire to 
create the military habit, that the food which has most milk in it 
is best suited to human beings; but the less wine the better, if 
they would escape diseases. Also all the motions to which children can 
be subjected at their early age are very useful. But in order to 
preserve their tender limbs from distortion, some nations have had 
recourse to mechanical appliances which straighten their bodies. To 
accustom children to the cold from their earliest years is also an 
excellent practice, which greatly conduces to health, and hardens them 
for military service. Hence many barbarians have a custom of 
plunging their children at birth into a cold stream; others, like 
the Celts, clothe them in a light wrapper only. For human nature 
should be early habituated to endure all which by habit it can be made 
to endure; but the process must be gradual. And children, from their 
natural warmth, may be easily trained to bear cold. Such care should 
attend them in the first stage of life. 

The next period lasts to the age of five; during this no demand 
should be made upon the child for study or labor, lest its growth be 
impeded; and there should be sufficient motion to prevent the limbs 
from being inactive. This can be secured, among other ways, by 
amusement, but the amusement should not be vulgar or tiring or 
effeminate. The Directors of Education, as they are termed, should 
be careful what tales or stories the children hear, for all such 
things are designed to prepare the way for the business of later life, 
and should be for the most part imitations of the occupations which 
they will hereafter pursue in earnest. Those are wrong who in their 
laws attempt to check the loud crying and screaming of children, for 
these contribute towards their growth, and, in a manner, exercise 
their bodies. Straining the voice has a strengthening effect similar 
to that produced by the retention of the breath in violent 
exertions. The Directors of Education should have an eye to their 
bringing up, and in particular should take care that they are left 
as little as possible with slaves. For until they are seven years 
old they must five at home; and therefore, even at this early age, 
it is to be expected that they should acquire a taint of meanness from 
what they hear and see. Indeed, there is nothing which the 
legislator should be more careful to drive away than indecency of 
speech; for the light utterance of shameful words leads soon to 
shameful actions. The young especially should never be allowed to 
repeat or hear anything of the sort. A freeman who is found saying 
or doing what is forbidden, if he be too young as yet to have the 
privilege of reclining at the public tables, should be disgraced and 
beaten, and an elder person degraded as his slavish conduct 
deserves. And since we do not allow improper language, clearly we 
should also banish pictures or speeches from the stage which are 
indecent. Let the rulers take care that there be no image or picture 
representing unseemly actions, except in the temples of those Gods 
at whose festivals the law permits even ribaldry, and whom the law 
also permits to be worshipped by persons of mature age on behalf of 
themselves, their children, and their wives. But the legislator should 
not allow youth to be spectators of iambi or of comedy until they 
are of an age to sit at the public tables and to drink strong wine; by 
that time education will have armed them against the evil influences 

of such representations. 

We have made these remarks in a cursory manner- they are enough 
for the present occasion; but hereafter we will return to the 
subject and after a fuller discussion determine whether such liberty 
should or should not be granted, and in what way granted, if at all. 
Theodorus, the tragic actor, was quite right in saying that he would 
not allow any other actor, not even if he were quite second-rate, to 
enter before himself, because the spectators grew fond of the voices 
which they first heard. And the same principle applies universally 
to association with things as well as with persons, for we always like 
best whatever comes first. And therefore youth should be kept 
strangers to all that is bad, and especially to things which suggest 
vice or hate. When the five years have passed away, during the two 
following years they must look on at the pursuits which they are 
hereafter to learn. There are two periods of life with reference to 
which education has to be divided, from seven to the age of puberty, 
and onwards to the age of one and twenty. The poets who divide ages by 
sevens are in the main right: but we should observe the divisions 
actually made by nature; for the deficiencies of nature are what art 
and education seek to fill up. 

Let us then first inquire if any regulations are to be laid down 
about children, and secondly, whether the care of them should be the 
concern of the state or of private individuals, which latter is in our 
own day the common custom, and in the third place, what these 
regulations should be. 


NO ONE will doubt that the legislator should direct his attention 
above all to the education of youth; for the neglect of education does 
harm to the constitution The citizen should be molded to suit the form 
of government under which he lives. For each government has a peculiar 
character which originally formed and which continues to preserve 
it. The character of democracy creates democracy, and the character of 
oligarchy creates oligarchy; and always the better the character, 
the better the government. 

Again, for the exercise of any faculty or art a previous training 
and habituation are required; clearly therefore for the practice of 
virtue. And since the whole city has one end, it is manifest that 
education should be one and the same for all, and that it should be 
public, and not private- not as at present, when every one looks after 
his own children separately, and gives them separate instruction of 
the sort which he thinks best; the training in things which are of 
common interest should be the same for all. Neither must we suppose 
that any one of the citizens belongs to himself, for they all belong 
to the state, and are each of them a part of the state, and the care 
of each part is inseparable from the care of the whole. In this 
particular as in some others the Lacedaemonians are to be praised, for 
they take the greatest pains about their children, and make 
education the business of the state. 


That education should be regulated by law and should be an affair of 
state is not to be denied, but what should be the character of this 
public education, and how young persons should be educated, are 
questions which remain to be considered. As things are, there is 
disagreement about the subjects. For mankind are by no means agreed 
about the things to be taught, whether we look to virtue or the best 
life. Neither is it clear whether education is more concerned with 
intellectual or with moral virtue. The existing practice is 
perplexing; no one knows on what principle we should proceed- should 
the useful in life, or should virtue, or should the higher 
knowledge, be the aim of our training; all three opinions have been 
entertained. Again, about the means there is no agreement; for 

different persons, starting with different ideas about the nature of 
virtue, naturally disagree about the practice of it. There can be no 
doubt that children should be taught those useful things which are 
really necessary, but not all useful things; for occupations are 
divided into liberal and illiberal; and to young children should be 
imparted only such kinds of knowledge as will be useful to them 
without vulgarizing them. And any occupation, art, or science, which 
makes the body or soul or mind of the freeman less fit for the 
practice or exercise of virtue, is vulgar; wherefore we call those 
arts vulgar which tend to deform the body, and likewise all paid 
employments, for they absorb and degrade the mind. There are also some 
liberal arts quite proper for a freeman to acquire, but only in a 
certain degree, and if he attend to them too closely, in order to 
attain perfection in them, the same evil effects will follow. The 
object also which a man sets before him makes a great difference; if 
he does or learns anything for his own sake or for the sake of his 
friends, or with a view to excellence the action will not appear 
illiberal; but if done for the sake of others, the very same action 
will be thought menial and servile. The received subjects of 
instruction, as I have already remarked, are partly of a liberal and 
party of an illiberal character. 


The customary branches of education are in number four; they are- 
(1) reading and writing, (2) gymnastic exercises, (3) music, to 
which is sometimes added (4) drawing. Of these, reading and writing 
and drawing are regarded as useful for the purposes of life in a 
variety of ways, and gymnastic exercises are thought to infuse 
courage, concerning music a doubt may be raised- in our own day most 
men cultivate it for the sake of pleasure, but originally it was 
included in education, because nature herself, as has been often said, 
requires that we should be able, not only to work well, but to use 
leisure well; for, as I must repeat once again, the first principle of 
all action is leisure. Both are required, but leisure is better than 
occupation and is its end; and therefore the question must be asked, 
what ought we to do when at leisure? Clearly we ought not to be 
amusing ourselves, for then amusement would be the end of life. But if 
this is inconceivable, and amusement is needed more amid serious 
occupations than at other times (for he who is hard at work has need 
of relaxation, and amusement gives relaxation, whereas occupation is 
always accompanied with exertion and effort) , we should introduce 
amusements only at suitable times, and they should be our medicines, 
for the emotion which they create in the soul is a relaxation, and 
from the pleasure we obtain rest. But leisure of itself gives pleasure 
and happiness and enjoyment of life, which are experienced, not by the 
busy man, but by those who have leisure. For he who is occupied has in 
view some end which he has not attained; but happiness is an end, 
since all men deem it to be accompanied with pleasure and not with 
pain. This pleasure, however, is regarded differently by different 
persons, and varies according to the habit of individuals; the 
pleasure of the best man is the best, and springs from the noblest 
sources. It is clear then that there are branches of learning and 
education which we must study merely with a view to leisure spent in 
intellectual activity, and these are to be valued for their own 
sake; whereas those kinds of knowledge which are useful in business 
are to be deemed necessary, and exist for the sake of other things. 
And therefore our fathers admitted music into education, not on the 
ground either of its necessity or utility, for it is not necessary, 
nor indeed useful in the same manner as reading and writing, which are 
useful in money-making, in the management of a household, in the 
acquisition of knowledge and in political life, nor like drawing, 
useful for a more correct judgment of the works of artists, nor 
again like gymnastic, which gives health and strength; for neither 
of these is to be gained from music. There remains, then, the use of 

music for intellectual enjoyment in leisure; which is in fact 
evidently the reason of its introduction, this being one of the ways 
in which it is thought that a freeman should pass his leisure; as 
Homer says, 

But he who alone should be called to the pleasant feast, 

and afterwards he speaks of others whom he describes as inviting 

The bard who would delight them all. 

And in another place Odysseus says there is no better way of passing 
life than when men's hearts are merry and 

The banqueters in the hall, sitting in order, hear the voice of 
the minstrel . 

It is evident, then, that there is a sort of education in which 
parents should train their sons, not as being useful or necessary, but 
because it is liberal or noble. Whether this is of one kind only, or 
of more than one, and if so, what they are, and how they are to be 
imparted, must hereafter be determined. Thus much we are now in a 
position to say, that the ancients witness to us; for their opinion 
may be gathered from the fact that music is one of the received and 
traditional branches of education. Further, it is clear that 
children should be instructed in some useful things- for example, in 
reading and writing- not only for their usefulness, but also because 
many other sorts of knowledge are acquired through them. With a like 
view they may be taught drawing, not to prevent their making 
mistakes in their own purchases, or in order that they may not be 
imposed upon in the buying or selling of articles, but perhaps 
rather because it makes them judges of the beauty of the human form. 
To be always seeking after the useful does not become free and exalted 
souls. Now it is clear that in education practice must be used 
before theory, and the body be trained before the mind; and 
therefore boys should be handed over to the trainer, who creates in 
them the roper habit of body, and to the wrestling-master, who teaches 
them their exercises. 


Of those states which in our own day seem to take the greatest 
care of children, some aim at producing in them an athletic habit, but 
they only injure their forms and stunt their growth. Although the 
Lacedaemonians have not fallen into this mistake, yet they brutalize 
their children by laborious exercises which they think will make 
them courageous. But in truth, as we have often repeated, education 
should not be exclusively, or principally, directed to this end. And 
even if we suppose the Lacedaemonians to be right in their end, they 
do not attain it. For among barbarians and among animals courage is 
found associated, not with the greatest ferocity, but with a gentle 
and lion like temper. There are many races who are ready enough to 
kill and eat men, such as the Achaeans and Heniochi, who both live 
about the Black Sea; and there are other mainland tribes, as bad or 
worse, who all live by plunder, but have no courage. It is notorious 
that the Lacedaemonians themselves, while they alone were assiduous in 
their laborious drill, were superior to others, but now they are 
beaten both in war and gymnastic exercises. For their ancient 
superiority did not depend on their mode of training their youth, 
but only on the circumstance that they trained them when their only 
rivals did not. Hence we may infer that what is noble, not what is 
brutal, should have the first place; no wolf or other wild animal will 
face a really noble danger; such dangers are for the brave man. And 
parents who devote their children to gymnastics while they neglect 
their necessary education, in reality vulgarize them; for they make 

them useful to the art of statesmanship in one quality only, and 
even in this the argument proves them to be inferior to others. We 
should judge the Lacedaemonians not from what they have been, but from 
what they are; for now they have rivals who compete with their 
education; formerly they had none. 

It is an admitted principle, that gymnastic exercises should be 
employed in education, and that for children they should be of a 
lighter kind, avoiding severe diet or painful toil, lest the growth of 
the body be impaired. The evil of excessive training in early years is 
strikingly proved by the example of the Olympic victors; for not 
more than two or three of them have gained a prize both as boys and as 
men; their early training and severe gymnastic exercises exhausted 
their constitutions. When boyhood is over, three years should be spent 
in other studies; the period of life which follows may then be devoted 
to hard exercise and strict diet. Men ought not to labor at the same 
time with their minds and with their bodies; for the two kinds of 
labor are opposed to one another; the labor of the body impedes the 
mind, and the labor of the mind the body. 


Concerning music there are some questions which we have already 
raised; these we may now resume and carry further; and our remarks 
will serve as a prelude to this or any other discussion of the 
subject. It is not easy to determine the nature of music, or why any 
one should have a knowledge of it. Shall we say, for the sake of 
amusement and relaxation, like sleep or drinking, which are not good 
in themselves, but are pleasant, and at the same time 'care to cease, ' 
as Euripides says? And for this end men also appoint music, and make 
use of all three alike- sleep, drinking, music- to which some add 
dancing. Or shall we argue that music conduces to virtue, on the 
ground that it can form our minds and habituate us to true pleasures 
as our bodies are made by gymnastic to be of a certain character? Or 
shall we say that it contributes to the enjoyment of leisure and 
mental cultivation, which is a third alternative? Now obviously youths 
are not to be instructed with a view to their amusement, for 
learning is no amusement, but is accompanied with pain. Neither is 
intellectual enjoyment suitable to boys of that age, for it is the 
end, and that which is imperfect cannot attain the perfect or end. But 
perhaps it may be said that boys learn music for the sake of the 
amusement which they will have when they are grown up. If so, why 
should they learn themselves, and not, like the Persian and Median 
kings, enjoy the pleasure and instruction which is derived from 
hearing others? (for surely persons who have made music the business 
and profession of their lives will be better performers than those who 
practice only long enough to learn) . If they must learn music, on 
the same principle they should learn cookery, which is absurd. And 
even granting that music may form the character, the objection still 
holds: why should we learn ourselves? Why cannot we attain true 
pleasure and form a correct judgment from hearing others, like the 
Lacedaemonians?- for they, without learning music, nevertheless can 
correctly judge, as they say, of good and bad melodies. Or again, if 
music should be used to promote cheerfulness and refined 
intellectual enjoyment, the objection still remains- why should we 
learn ourselves instead of enjoying the performances of others? We may 
illustrate what we are saying by our conception of the Gods; for in 
the poets Zeus does not himself sing or play on the lyre. Nay, we call 
professional performers vulgar; no freeman would play or sing unless 
he were intoxicated or in jest. But these matters may be left for 
the present. 

The first question is whether music is or is not to be a part of 
education. Of the three things mentioned in our discussion, which does 
it produce?- education or amusement or intellectual enjoyment, for 
it may be reckoned under all three, and seems to share in the nature 
of all of them. Amusement is for the sake of relaxation, and 

relaxation is of necessity sweet, for it is the remedy of pain 
caused by toil; and intellectual enjoyment is universally acknowledged 
to contain an element not only of the noble but of the pleasant, for 
happiness is made up of both. All men agree that music is one of the 
pleasantest things, whether with or without songs; as Musaeus says: 

Song to mortals of all things the sweetest. 

Hence and with good reason it is introduced into social gatherings and 
entertainments, because it makes the hearts of men glad: so that on 
this ground alone we may assume that the young ought to be trained 
in it. For innocent pleasures are not only in harmony with the perfect 
end of life, but they also provide relaxation. And whereas men 
rarely attain the end, but often rest by the way and amuse themselves, 
not only with a view to a further end, but also for the pleasure's 
sake, it may be well at times to let them find a refreshment in music. 
It sometimes happens that men make amusement the end, for the end 
probably contains some element of pleasure, though not any ordinary or 
lower pleasure; but they mistake the lower for the higher, and in 
seeking for the one find the other, since every pleasure has a 
likeness to the end of action. For the end is not eligible for the 
sake of any future good, nor do the pleasures which we have 
described exist for the sake of any future good but of the past, 
that is to say, they are the alleviation of past toils and pains. 
And we may infer this to be the reason why men seek happiness from 
these pleasures . 

But music is pursued, not only as an alleviation of past toil, but 
also as providing recreation. And who can say whether, having this 
use, it may not also have a nobler one? In addition to this common 
pleasure, felt and shared in by all (for the pleasure given by music 
is natural, and therefore adapted to all ages and characters), may 
it not have also some influence over the character and the soul? It 
must have such an influence if characters are affected by it. And that 
they are so affected is proved in many ways, and not least by the 
power which the songs of Olympus exercise; for beyond question they 
inspire enthusiasm, and enthusiasm is an emotion of the ethical part 
of the soul. Besides, when men hear imitations, even apart from the 
rhythms and tunes themselves, their feelings move in sympathy. Since 
then music is a pleasure, and virtue consists in rejoicing and 
loving and hating aright, there is clearly nothing which we are so 
much concerned to acquire and to cultivate as the power of forming 
right judgments, and of taking delight in good dispositions and 
noble actions. Rhythm and melody supply imitations of anger and 
gentleness, and also of courage and temperance, and of all the 
qualities contrary to these, and of the other qualities of 
character, which hardly fall short of the actual affections, as we 
know from our own experience, for in listening to such strains our 
souls undergo a change. The habit of feeling pleasure or pain at 
mere representations is not far removed from the same feeling about 
realities; for example, if any one delights in the sight of a statue 
for its beauty only, it necessarily follows that the sight of the 
original will be pleasant to him. The objects of no other sense, 
such as taste or touch, have any resemblance to moral qualities; in 
visible objects there is only a little, for there are figures which 
are of a moral character, but only to a slight extent, and all do 
not participate in the feeling about them. Again, figures and colors 
are not imitations, but signs, of moral habits, indications which 
the body gives of states of feeling. The connection of them with 
morals is slight, but in so far as there is any, young men should be 
taught to look, not at the works of Pauson, but at those of 
Polygnotus, or any other painter or sculptor who expresses moral 
ideas. On the other hand, even in mere melodies there is an 
imitation of character, for the musical modes differ essentially 
from one another, and those who hear them are differently affected 

by each. Some of them make men sad and grave, like the so-called 
Mixolydian, others enfeeble the mind, like the relaxed modes, another, 
again, produces a moderate and settled temper, which appears to be the 
peculiar effect of the Dorian; the Phrygian inspires enthusiasm. The 
whole subject has been well treated by philosophical writers on this 
branch of education, and they confirm their arguments by facts. The 
same principles apply to rhythms; some have a character of rest, 
others of motion, and of these latter again, some have a more 
vulgar, others a nobler movement. Enough has been said to show that 
music has a power of forming the character, and should therefore be 
introduced into the education of the young. The study is suited to the 
stage of youth, for young persons will not, if they can help, endure 
anything which is not sweetened by pleasure, and music has a natural 
sweetness. There seems to be in us a sort of affinity to musical modes 
and rhythms, which makes some philosophers say that the soul is a 
tuning, others, that it possesses tuning. 


And now we have to determine the question which has been already 
raised, whether children should be themselves taught to sing and 
play or not. Clearly there is a considerable difference made in the 
character by the actual practice of the art. It is difficult, if not 
impossible, for those who do not perform to be good judges of the 
performance of others. Besides, children should have something to 
do, and the rattle of Archytas, which people give to their children in 
order to amuse them and prevent them from breaking anything in the 
house, was a capital invention, for a young thing cannot be quiet. The 
rattle is a toy suited to the infant mind, and education is a rattle 
or toy for children of a larger growth. We conclude then that they 
should be taught music in such a way as to become not only critics but 
performers . 

The question what is or is not suitable for different ages may be 
easily answered; nor is there any difficulty in meeting the 
objection of those who say that the study of music is vulgar. We reply 
(1) in the first place, that they who are to be judges must also be 
performers, and that they should begin to practice early, although 
when they are older they may be spared the execution; they must have 
learned to appreciate what is good and to delight in it, thanks to the 
knowledge which they acquired in their youth. As to (2) the 
vulgarizing effect which music is supposed to exercise, this is a 
question which we shall have no difficulty in determining, when we 
have considered to what extent freemen who are being trained to 
political virtue should pursue the art, what melodies and what rhythms 
they should be allowed to use, and what instruments should be employed 
in teaching them to play; for even the instrument makes a 
difference. The answer to the objection turns upon these distinctions; 
for it is quite possible that certain methods of teaching and learning 
music do really have a degrading effect. It is evident then that the 
learning of music ought not to impede the business of riper years, 
or to degrade the body or render it unfit for civil or military 
training, whether for bodily exercises at the time or for later 
studies . 

The right measure will be attained if students of music stop short 
of the arts which are practiced in professional contests, and do not 
seek to acquire those fantastic marvels of execution which are now the 
fashion in such contests, and from these have passed into education. 
Let the young practice even such music as we have prescribed, only 
until they are able to feel delight in noble melodies and rhythms, and 
not merely in that common part of music in which every slave or 
child and even some animals find pleasure. 

From these principles we may also infer what instruments should be 
used. The flute, or any other instrument which requires great skill, 
as for example the harp, ought not to be admitted into education, 
but only such as will make intelligent students of music or of the 

other parts of education. Besides, the flute is not an instrument 
which is expressive of moral character; it is too exciting. The proper 
time for using it is when the performance aims not at instruction, but 
at the relief of the passions. And there is a further objection; the 
impediment which the flute presents to the use of the voice detracts 
from its educational value. The ancients therefore were right in 
forbidding the flute to youths and freemen, although they had once 
allowed it. For when their wealth gave them a greater inclination to 
leisure, and they had loftier notions of excellence, being also elated 
with their success, both before and after the Persian War, with more 
zeal than discernment they pursued every kind of knowledge, and so 
they introduced the flute into education. At Lacedaemon there was a 
choragus who led the chorus with a flute, and at Athens the instrument 
became so popular that most freemen could play upon it. The popularity 
is shown by the tablet which Thrasippus dedicated when he furnished 
the chorus to Ecphantides . Later experience enabled men to judge 
what was or was not really conducive to virtue, and they rejected both 
the flute and several other old-fashioned instruments, such as the 
Lydian harp, the many-stringed lyre, the 'heptagon, ' 'triangle, ' 
'sambuca, ' the like- which are intended only to give pleasure to the 
hearer, and require extraordinary skill of hand. There is a meaning 
also in the myth of the ancients, which tells how Athene invented 
the flute and then threw it away. It was not a bad idea of theirs, 
that the Goddess disliked the instrument because it made the face 
ugly; but with still more reason may we say that she rejected it 
because the acquirement of flute-playing contributes nothing to the 
mind, since to Athene we ascribe both knowledge and art. 

Thus then we reject the professional instruments and also the 
professional mode of education in music (and by professional we mean 
that which is adopted in contests), for in this the performer 
practices the art, not for the sake of his own improvement, but in 
order to give pleasure, and that of a vulgar sort, to his hearers. For 
this reason the execution of such music is not the part of a freeman 
but of a paid performer, and the result is that the performers are 
vulgarized, for the end at which they aim is bad. The vulgarity of the 
spectator tends to lower the character of the music and therefore of 
the performers; they look to him- he makes them what they are, and 
fashions even their bodies by the movements which he expects them to 
exhibit . 


We have also to consider rhythms and modes, and their use in 
education. Shall we use them all or make a distinction? and shall 
the same distinction be made for those who practice music with a 
view to education, or shall it be some other? Now we see that music is 
produced by melody and rhythm, and we ought to know what influence 
these have respectively on education, and whether we should prefer 
excellence in melody or excellence in rhythm. But as the subject has 
been very well treated by many musicians of the present day, and 
also by philosophers who have had considerable experience of musical 
education, to these we would refer the more exact student of the 
subject; we shall only speak of it now after the manner of the 
legislator, stating the general principles. 

We accept the division of melodies proposed by certain 
philosophers into ethical melodies, melodies of action, and passionate 
or inspiring melodies, each having, as they say, a mode 
corresponding to it. But we maintain further that music should be 
studied, not for the sake of one, but of many benefits, that is to 
say, with a view to (1) education, (2) purgation (the word 'purgation' 
we use at present without explanation, but when hereafter we speak 
of poetry, we will treat the subject with more precision); music may 
also serve (3) for for enjoyment, for relaxation, and for recreation 
after exertion. It is clear, therefore, that all the modes must be 
employed by us, but not all of them in the same manner. In education 

the most ethical modes are to be preferred, but in listening to the 
performances of others we may admit the modes of action and passion 
also. For feelings such as pity and fear, or, again, enthusiasm, exist 
very strongly in some souls, and have more or less influence over all. 
Some persons fall into a religious frenzy, whom we see as a result 
of the sacred melodies- when they have used the melodies that excite 
the soul to mystic frenzy- restored as though they had found healing 
and purgation. Those who are influenced by pity or fear, and every 
emotional nature, must have a like experience, and others in so far as 
each is susceptible to such emotions, and all are in a manner purged 
and their souls lightened and delighted. The purgative melodies 
likewise give an innocent pleasure to mankind. Such are the modes 
and the melodies in which those who perform music at the theater 
should be invited to compete. But since the spectators are of two 
kinds- the one free and educated, and the other a vulgar crowd 
composed of mechanics, laborers, and the like- there ought to be 
contests and exhibitions instituted for the relaxation of the second 
class also. And the music will correspond to their minds; for as their 
minds are perverted from the natural state, so there are perverted 
modes and highly strung and unnaturally colored melodies. A man 
receives pleasure from what is natural to him, and therefore 
professional musicians may be allowed to practice this lower sort of 
music before an audience of a lower type. But, for the purposes of 
education, as I have already said, those modes and melodies should 
be employed which are ethical, such as the Dorian, as we said 
before; though we may include any others which are approved by 
philosophers who have had a musical education. The Socrates of the 
Republic is wrong in retaining only the Phrygian mode along with the 
Dorian, and the more so because he rejects the flute; for the Phrygian 
is to the modes what the flute is to musical instruments- both of them 
are exciting and emotional. Poetry proves this, for Bacchic frenzy and 
all similar emotions are most suitably expressed by the flute, and are 
better set to the Phrygian than to any other mode. The dithyramb, 
for example, is acknowledged to be Phrygian, a fact of which the 
connoisseurs of music offer many proofs, saying, among other things, 
that Philoxenus, having attempted to compose his Mysians as a 
dithyramb in the Dorian mode, found it impossible, and fell back by 
the very nature of things into the more appropriate Phrygian. All 
men agree that the Dorian music is the gravest and manliest. And 
whereas we say that the extremes should be avoided and the mean 
followed, and whereas the Dorian is a mean between the other modes, it 
is evident that our youth should be taught the Dorian music. 

Two principles have to be kept in view, what is possible, what is 
becoming: at these every man ought to aim. But even these are relative 
to age; the old, who have lost their powers, cannot very well sing the 
high-strung modes, and nature herself seems to suggest that their 
songs should be of the more relaxed kind. Wherefore the musicians 
likewise blame Socrates, and with justice, for rejecting the relaxed 
modes in education under the idea that they are intoxicating, not in 
the ordinary sense of intoxication (for wine rather tends to excite 
men), but because they have no strength in them. And so, with a view 
also to the time of life when men begin to grow old, they ought to 
practice the gentler modes and melodies as well as the others, and, 
further, any mode, such as the Lydian above all others appears to 
be, which is suited to children of tender age, and possesses the 
elements both of order and of education. Thus it is clear that 
education should be based upon three principles- the mean, the 
possible, the becoming, these three.